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For Tiger Woods, a March of the Masters like no other awaits – The Denver Post

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods’ 91st competitive round at the Masters will begin like any other.

Shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday, the five-time champion will sink his tee into the ground at Tea Olive, the name of Augusta National’s first hole, take some practice swings and continue a familiar walk that began more than a year ago. fifteen minutes. one century ago.

It’s what happens when Woods puts his driver back in his bag that will determine whether his surgically reconstructed right leg – or the rest of the 46-year-old Hall of Famer for that matter – is ready for a test like no other to which he is confronted. his career.

The approximately five-mile boardwalk between the Georgia pines at Augusta National has more than 11,000 steps up and down and back again. It requires hitting shots from uneven lies. To dig in the pine straw when necessary. To try to get past bunkers that can be so deep – as is the case on the par-3 fourth hole – you have to jump if you want to see the flag.

No one but Jack Nicklaus navigated the sprawling course as well as Woods. No active player knows the contours of every inch of perfectly manicured Bermuda grass so well.

That’s why Woods wasn’t complaining when he said on Tuesday “walking is the hardest part.” It just states a fact. And he’s not the only one who knows how physically draining competing at the Masters can be.

Two-time US Open champion Curtis Strange left the tournament with shin splints. And Strange didn’t have to do that working with a leg stuffed with rods and plates, metal detectors shudder when they see you coming around the corner.

“You know, 72 holes is a long road, and it’s going to be a tough challenge and a challenge that I’m up for,” Woods said.

At least in theory. He hasn’t played 18 holes at Augusta National on consecutive days since shredding his leg in a car crash in February 2021 that led doctors to consider amputation. Now he’s asking the same stage that has anchored 15 major championships and a PGA Tour record 82 wins to go four rounds in the space of about 81 hours.

That doesn’t even include the warm-up or cool-down, routines that take far longer than when he worked his way up to his first green jacket 25 years ago.

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