By DOUG FERGUSON
AUGUSTA, Georgia (AP) – A comeback like no other for Tiger Woods could start at the Masters.
Just over 13 months after Woods injured his right leg so severely that he said doctors were considering amputation, he tweeted that he was heading to Augusta National on Sunday without deciding yet to play.
“Today I will go to Augusta to continue my preparation and practice. It will be a decision in game time about whether I will compete,” Woods wrote.
Today I am going to Augusta to continue my preparation and practice. It will be a decision in game time about whether to compete. Congratulations to 16-year-old Anna Davis for her incredible victory in the @anwagolf and good luck to all the children of the @DriveChipPutt.
– Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 3, 2022
The Master does not have a firm deadline to commit as the usual events of the tour. It is an invitation tournament, and players usually notify the club only if they do not plan to play.
Departure times are announced on Tuesday.
If Woods decides to play – he played 18 holes at Augusta National five days ago – it would be his first competition against the best players in the world since November 15, 2020, when the Masters was moved to the fall because of the pandemic.
Woods was recovering from a fifth back surgery in early 2021 when on February 23, two days after he presented the trophy at the Genesis Invitational he organizes in Riviera, crashed his all-terrain vehicle over a median on a suburban Los Angeles coastal road and the car crashed down a hillside.
Police estimated it was going at least 84 mph in a 45 mph zone.
Doctors said Woods broke his tibia and fibula bones in his right leg in several places. These were stabilized by a rod in the tibia, while a combination of bolts and pins were used to stabilize additional injuries to the ankle and foot.
Woods said he spent three months immobilized in a makeshift hospital bed installed in his Florida home. Only then could he begin to move on crutches, and finally he was able to walk alone.
Woods won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008 with a double stress fracture and ruptured knee ligaments in his left leg. He returned from a scandal in his personal life to become number 1 in the world again.
Nothing was more surprising than three years ago at Augusta National when he won a fifth green jacket after four back surgeries that made him fear he would never walk again.
That you are even contemplating playing in this Master is remarkable in itself. If you can, the questions will surely change to see if you can win.
One week before Thanksgiving, he posted a three-second video with two words: Making Progress. Two weeks later, at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, a festive event hosted by Woods, he was in the back of the range in Albany beating the riders.
The first big surprise came two weeks later when he played the PNC Challenge, a 36-hole fight on a Florida flat field. Woods was allowed to ride in a cart, a point he made when there were remarks about the state of his game. He and his son were second when John Daly and his son threw the last hole.
“It’s going to take a lot of work to get to where I feel I can complete against these guys and be at a high level,” Woods said that day.
Addressing the condition of her right leg in February, Woods said she is “upset” and that “my right leg doesn’t look like my left, so to speak.”
The importance of last week’s training round was that Woods had made sure he could go through 18 holes in the undulating terrain of Augusta National and still be able to recover in the following days. Coming back on Sunday was a good sign.
Will he be able to win again? That would be considered more unlikely than his last Masters victory.
Woods has played the Masters 21 times as a pro, and is the only major one where he has never lost the cut.
In his last competitive round at Augusta National, he achieved the highest score of his career – a 10 in the 12 par 3 hole by hitting three balls at Rae’s Creek – just to make five of the last six birds, including the last four in a row.
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