AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods says it will be a “game-time decision” on whether he makes it to the 86th Masters, which is slated to begin Thursday.
Woods, 46, provided the update in a tweet on Sunday, writing that he would be returning to Augusta National Golf Club “to continue my preparation and training.” Sources had told ESPN that Woods played an 18-hole practice round at Augusta National on Tuesday.
I will be heading to Augusta today to continue my preparation and training. It will be a game-time decision whether I compete. Congratulations to 16-year-old Anna Davis on her stunning win at the @anwagolf and good luck to all the kids @DriveChipPutt.
—Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 3, 2022
Woods also congratulated Anna Davis, the teenager who won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Saturday.
The five-time Masters champion hasn’t played in more than a year after being seriously injured in a car crash outside Los Angeles that nearly forced doctors to amputate his right leg. He last appeared in the final round of the 2020 Masters, which took place in November that year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Woods’ return to competitive golf would come on the 25th anniversary of his first Masters win in 1997, when he won by a record 12 strokes while shooting a tournament-record 18-under-par 270 on four rounds.
The Masters does not have a firm deadline to enter or withdraw from the tournament, giving Woods until his Thursday tee time to make a final decision.
It wouldn’t be the first time Woods has returned to professional golf at Augusta National after a lengthy layoff. After undergoing multiple knee and back surgeries, Woods won the 2019 Masters for his first major championship in 11 years.
Woods’ five Masters wins rank second in history; Jack Nicklaus won the green jacket six times between 1963 and 1986. Woods’ 15 major championships also rank second to Nicklaus’ 18.
“I think for golf and for the Masters and for everybody to have Tiger there would be phenomenal,” Rory McIlroy told reporters in San Antonio earlier this week at the Valero Texas Open. “I think that just adds to the event. Obviously it does. Everything that Tiger Woods does in the game of golf is reinforced every time he’s around. I mean, it would be great for him to be there.”
Woods played a practice round at Augusta National on Tuesday with his son, Charlie, and PGA Tour player and close friend Justin Thomas.
Playing Augusta National is considered one of the toughest drives in professional golf due to its length, hills and slopes. After that round, a source told ESPN that Woods “really, really wants to play” at the Masters.
Bad weather is forecast for Augusta on Tuesday and Wednesday, so Woods and other players will likely try to get in their practice rounds on Sunday and Monday.
Woods has been working for over a year to regain strength in his right leg and right foot. He was seriously injured in a rollover on February 23, 2021. The SUV he was driving crossed two oncoming lanes, hit a sidewalk and uprooted a tree on a downhill stretch in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside Los Angeles exterior. He was wearing a seat belt and officers found him still seated in the SUV.
He was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center by ambulance with open fractures in the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula of his right leg. He told reporters at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in late November that doctors nearly amputated his right leg.
“It’s changed,” Woods said in a press conference ahead of the Genesis Invitational in February. “My right leg doesn’t look like my left leg, let’s put it that way.”
Less than two months ago, Woods said he was frustrated with the speed of his recovery.
“I wish I could tell you when I play again,” Woods said. “I want to know, but I don’t. My golf activity has been very limited. I can chip and putt really well and hit the short irons really well, but I haven’t done any serious long stuff. I’m working always .
“I’m still working on the walking part. My foot was a bit messed up about a year ago, so the walking part is something I’m still working on, working on strength and development. It takes time. This What’s frustrating is that it’s not on my schedule. I want to be in a certain place, but I’m not. I just have to keep working. I’m improving, yes. But like I said, not at the speed and rate that I would like. You also add the age factor. You just don’t heal as fast, which is frustrating.
At the February press conference, Woods said he focused on chipping, putting and hitting short irons, but wasn’t able to do much with a driver. because his right leg was not strong enough.
A since-deleted video surfaced about a week ago of Woods playing a round at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida.
Woods has already endured considerable suffering. At the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, he won his 14th major championship title by defeating Rocco Mediate in sudden death after an 18-hole elimination round. Woods later revealed he had played all week with two stress fractures in his tibia and a torn ACL in his left knee. He had suffered the injuries from rushing too soon after arthroscopic knee surgery after the 2008 Masters.
He underwent reconstructive knee surgery just over a week after the US Open and missed the rest of the season.