Tiger Woods watches his drive on the sixth hole during round-robin play at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship golf tournament, Friday, March 29, 2019, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Tiger Woods Plans To Play In Masters

When Tiger Woods won his fifth green jacket in 2019, the whole world thought the greatest comeback in sports history was complete.

And yet, it may not even be Woods’s greatest comeback.

Following a traumatic car accident 13 months ago that nearly took his life, Woods returns to Augusta this week in stunning fashion. There was belief at the time of the crash that Woods may never walk again, much less play golf.

Then the rumors started swirling. Over the weekend it came out that Woods was playing practice rounds at Augusta National in hopes of playing the hollowed ground. On Monday, massive crowds gathered to watch Tiger and his good friend Fred Couples play a practice round.

It all built to Tuesday morning when Woods took to the podium and golf fans around the world held their breath.

“As of right now,” Woods said with the world hanging on the words to follow. “I feel like I am going to play.”

The addition of Tiger to any tournament instantly makes it more exciting. While golf’s new wave is producing many stars, none move the needle the way its greatest name still does.

Now that Woods is playing, there is one thing everybody wants to know: can he compete? Let’s take a look.

The Challenge Of Augusta

Tiger Woods has said throughout his career he would never enter a tournament that he does not believe he can win. He was asked Tuesday whether he truly believed he could win at Augusta this weekend.

“I do,” Woods said. “I don’t have any qualms about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint. Walking is the hard part.”

His problems with walking present an extremely difficult task for him at Augusta National. The course is known for its rolling hills and elevation changes, and Woods himself said the only flat part of the course is the 18 tee boxes.

A big issue is the weather will not be friendly to Woods’s body this weekend. There is rain in the forecast for Augusta which will make the course wet and slipping possible. ESPN golf analyst and former Florida Gator, Andy North, spoke about the challenge a wet golf course presents for Woods.

However, North–a close friend of Tiger’s–believes in his ability to get the job done. He discussed how Woods’s form leading up to the tournament bodes well for his ability to compete.

Still, four days of walking through the iconic golf course and approximately 270 swings will wear mightily on his 46-year-old body. A body that has been through major back surgery, leg surgery and numerous other injuries throughout his career.

There is also the challenge of a young, deep and talented field. Golf has had plenty of big names emerge as Tiger has aged, and all of them love to compete against their hero. The idea of facing Tiger on a Sunday at Augusta is one the new wave of players embraces, not shies away from.

Putting It In Perspective

This year’s Masters marks the 25th anniversary of Tiger Woods’s first victory at Augusta National. At the time, Woods was 21 and the victory would change the sport of golf forever. He lapped the field, posting a score of 18-under and winning by 12 strokes. To this day it is the most dominant win in Masters history.

With a win this week, Woods would take sole possession of all-time record for wins on the PGA Tour. Breaking Sam Snead’s record of 82 wins in this fashion would be a story Hollywood could not script.

As epic as 2019 was, nothing would be able to surpass a win this weekend if Woods can pull off the impossible. 13 months removed from an accident that nearly took his life, it would mark the greatest comeback in sports history. And it would be after many thought he climbed that mountain by taking his fifth green jacket three years ago.

Not to mention Tiger would match his idol, Jack Nicklaus, with six Masters titles if he takes a magical victory this weekend. At this point, it is highly unlikely Tiger breaks Jack’s record of 18 major victories–Tiger has 16–but matching him at Augusta would certainly be something special.

Even just seeing Woods prowling around that tremendous golf course is a treat for fans of the sport. Woods also admitted Tuesday that even just playing is a victory.

“The fact I was able to get myself here to this point is a success,” Woods said.

However for Woods, that is only one part of it. Now the focus shifts to winning.

“Now that I’m playing, [it’s about] how I get myself in the position where I’m on the back nine and have a chance,” Woods said.

If Woods does find himself in contention late Sunday, it could set up one of the most epic rounds in the history of golf. It is something everybody should be rooting for.

His quest for a sixth green jacket begins Thursday at 10:34 a.m. He is paired with Louis Oosthuizen and Joaqin Niemann.

About Ethan Budowsky

Ethan Budowsky is a fifth-year telecommunications student at the University of Florida. He covers Major League Baseball for Just Baseball Media and previously covered the Miami Marlins for their SB Nation affiliate, Fish Stripes.

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