Tiger Woods plans to play in the Masters 14 months after his horrific car accident
The most improbable of sports comebacks is underway.
Tiger Woods, less than 14 months removed from a catastrophic car accident that threatened his ability to walk, confirmed Tuesday that he intends to play in the Masters this week in pursuit of his sixth green jacket.
“As of right now I feel like I am going to play,” he said. “I’m going to play nine more [practice] holes [Wednesday]. My recovery has been good.”
The news followed half a practice round by Woods on Monday, during which he drew a gallery of thousands that was at least five layers deep from tee to green.
“It’s been a tough, tough year and lot of stuff that I had to deal with that I don’t wish on anyone,” he said, “but here we are at Masters week.”
It appeared Woods would never return to competition after his horrific car accident in February 2021. He was in Los Angeles, traveling at a high rate of speed, and lost control of his SUV, which rolled multiple times before coming to a halt. The crash occurred on a curvy and steep stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Police said Woods was lucky to be alive and was extracted from the crushed vehicle with injuries that included a shattered ankle and two leg fractures.
Thronged by huge crowds during a practice round, Tiger Woods says he is back at Augusta for the Masters tournament.
The lingering effects of those injuries were evident more than a year later Monday, when Woods somewhat rigidly walked nine holes with Fred Couples and Justin Thomas, drawing a massive roving gallery reminiscent of the final group on a Masters Sunday.
“It’s been one of those things where I’ve had to endure pain before,” Woods said. “This is different obviously. This is a lot more traumatic, what has transpired to my leg. We’ve had to put in a lot of work. As I said, I’m very thankful to my surgeons and my [physical therapists] that have worked on me and have given me this opportunity to play golf.”
Woods, whose 15 major championships are second to the 18 of Jack Nicklaus, has won five green jackets. His first came 25 years ago at the 1997 Masters when, at age 21, he posted a 12-stroke win that still stands as the tournament’s largest margin of victory. Only Nicklaus has won more Masters titles — six.
Woods would go on to win the Masters in 2001, ’02, ’05 and, in a career resurgence for the ages, 2019. That stirring victory three years ago was not only the first majors win for Woods in 11 years, but was also an improbable revival from a string of personal scandals that sullied his once-pristine image, as well as four back surgeries that at one point left him unable to get out of bed. But these leg issues are different.
“It’s just a matter of what my body’s able to do the next day and the recovery,” he said. “That’s the hard part. Yes, we push it and try and recover the best we possibly can that night and see how it is the next morning. Then all the activations and going through that whole process again, and you warm it up, and then you warm it back down, or test it out, and then you’ve got to cool it back down. Then you’ve got to do that day in and day out.
“It gets agonizing and teasing because of simple things that I would normally just go do that would take now a couple hours here and a couple hours there to prep and then wind down.”
Tiger Woods ‘lucky to be alive’ after serious rollover crash leaves him with leg injuries
Tiger Woods’ accident sends the golf star to the hospital after he was extricated from a rollover wreck near Rancho Palos Verdes.
Couples said Monday he was particularly impressed by Woods’ length off the tee and said he has been communicating with Woods for months but hasn’t wanted to press him on when he might return to competition.
So, even after he recently saw a picture someone took of Woods playing without a cart at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla., Couples didn’t inquire further.
“That’s not how we work,” Couples said. “I love him as one of my best friends and I want to damn keep it that way, and I don’t pry into anything he does, but most of the texts were about his kids. Charlie got fitted for new clubs, his daughter, the speech, his daughter playing in soccer, and then all of a sudden he said, `I’m going to go to Augusta,’ — because he loves JT [Justin Thomas] and I and he wants to play these little practice rounds. That was his goal.”
Woods said he’s not concerned about his swing. The issue is walking the undulating course.
“I can hit it just fine,” he said. “I don’t have any qualms about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint. It’s now walking is the hard part. This is normally not an easy walk to begin with. Now, given the conditions that my leg is in, it gets even more difficult.
“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.”
It was only a Masters practice round Monday, but fans followed Tiger Woods at Augusta as if this were the final day of the major tournament.
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