And just like that 15-time golf major championship winner and five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods is back. After a horrific car accident little more than 13 months ago, where it was unsure if Woods would ever walk again or have all his limbs, here he is back on the course and at the tournament that made him a household name 25 years ago.
“As of right now, I feel like I am going to play,” Woods said at Tuesday’s press conference.
When asked if he believed he could win, Woods gave a simple two-word response: “I do.”
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 5, 2022
This is tremendous for the sports world, CBS and the people that run the Masters. Yes, this is one of golf’s four majors but without Woods this sport has struggled to captivate the attention of the masses. Woods is box office, must-see TV. If he happens to be in contention on Sunday, It will be all everyone talks about.
“I love competing, and I feel like if I can still compete at the highest level, I’m going to,” said Woods, who later added that he would not “show up to an event unless I think I can win it.”
Knowledge of the course of the Masters is a huge factor in winning. The Masters is the only one of the four majors played at the same venue every year, Augusta National.
Woods won his first Masters 25 years ago this week in 1997. He was the youngest ever champion at 21 and holds the record for widest margin of victory, 12 strokes.
His most recent Masters win came in 2019, 11 years following his last major win. In between, he went through an embarrassing public divorce, multiple injuries and surgeries, including a spinal fusion procedure.
Many thought Woods would never win another major, and he completed one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
Who knows whether he’ll win this week at Augusta. For Woods, the fact that he’s out here walking again and able to compete is a victory in and of itself.
During his Tuesday press conference, Woods expressed no concern with his golf game. He believes the challenge will be how his body responds over the course of the four days: How he recovers, how quickly he’s able to activate and warm up the requisite muscles and cool them back down.
Augusta National is a very hilly golf course. Woods admitted struggling getting around the massive undulations. Seventy-two holes of that on top of the pressure of a major championship will be a lot to overcome.
“It’s just a matter of what my body’s able to do the next day and the recovery. 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. So activity time to do what I want to do, it adds more time on both sides of it pre and post.
So that has been — it’s not like something I haven’t done, but the times have gotten longer on both sides.”
The presence of Woods will undoubtedly lead to a jump in ratings and excitement around the Masters. Whether he wins or not Woods will be the story this week, as it should be.
This was a sport relegated to a few highlights and the occasional major network story. It’s niche, exclusive and country club. But a Black man from California dominated and took it over like nobody before him and made it must-see TV for the masses.