Augusta National: Tiger Woods makes final preparations for Epic Masters return | Golf News

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Tiger Woods has spoken, now he will have to walk the talk as he chases a record sixth Masters title just 14 months after suffering serious leg injuries in a car accident. Woods played the back nine on the hill at Augusta National on Wednesday in a final practice round before Thursday’s start of the 86th Masters, taking a final test of his surgically repaired right leg. “I have no qualms about what I can do physically from a golf perspective. Now the walking is the hardest part,” Woods said.

“It’s normally not an easy walk to start with. Now, given the state my leg is in, it’s getting even harder. It’s going to be a tough challenge and a challenge I’m ready for.”

The 46-year-old superstar, who says he fights pain every day, played an 18-hole practice round last week at 7,510 yards and played three nine-hole practice rounds over the four last days.

“I don’t have to worry about hitting the ball,” Woods said. “It’s actually just the hills.”

Barring a setback in his condition, Woods will play Thursday morning alongside South African Louis Oosthuizen and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann with thousands in attendance and a global television audience watching his every move.

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“It really shouldn’t surprise us. He’s one of the most dedicated and determined athletes I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Augusta National President Fred Ridley. “Who knows what might happen this week? We’re glad he’s here.

Woods, a 15-time major champion, hasn’t played a competitive round in 17 months, since attempting to defend his 2019 title at a 2020 Masters postponed until November by Covid-19.

“Considering where his life was 17 months ago, that’s an incredible achievement,” said Jack Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 Major titles and a record six Masters crowns. “Only reinforces the drive, passion and work ethic that Tiger has always possessed.”

In February 2021, Woods was involved in a car accident that left him hospitalized for weeks and unable to walk for months, his right leg repaired with rods, plates and screws that left him with a reduced mobility.

“I’ve been really excited about how I recovered every day,” Woods said. “That’s been the challenge…how am I going to get all the swelling to go away and recover for the next day.”

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Woods, a former world No. His only missed masters cut came in 1996 as an amateur.

“It gets nerve-wracking and teasing because of the simple things. It’s not like something I haven’t done, but times have gotten longer on both sides,” Woods said of the time he spent with him. takes to prepare for and recover from a round.

“We push it and try to recover as best we can that night and see how it is the next morning. Then you have to do that day in and day out.”

Rain no problem for Tiger

The rain has softened the course, which could make the walk even more dangerous, although this does not concern Woods thanks to special shoes.

“I’m not afraid of slipping,” he said. “I have metals (spikes) so I don’t have to worry about that. Even with the rain, it doesn’t really concern me.”

Woods, whose 82 US PGA Tour titles are tied with the all-time record set by Sam Snead, said he would have been happy with his career had his injuries been too serious to return.

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“I think 82 is a pretty good number,” he said. “And 15 (majors) isn’t too bad either.”

“When I decide to hang up, when I feel like I can’t win anymore, then that will be it. But I feel like I can still do it.”

If Woods captures a sixth Green Jacket, it would be one of the most stunning comeback stories in sports history.

But just being able to play and walk is a feat for Woods, who feared amputation soon after the accident.

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“The fact that I’ve been able to get here so far is a success,” Woods said.

“Now that I’m playing it’s all about how I get into the position where I’m on that back nine on Sunday with a chance, just like I did a few years ago,” Woods said, who returned from spinal fusion surgery to win the 2019 Masters, his first major title since limping to victory at the 2008 US Open on a broken leg.

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