Augusta, GA…Tiger Woods said Tuesday that he plans to play the Masters, confirming the speculation that has increased with each day. “As of right now, I feel like I am going to play,” Woods said in his pre-tournament press conference. “My recovery has been good. I’ve been very excited about how I’ve recovered each and every day. That’s the challenge. … It’s the recovery, how am I going to get the swelling out and recover for the next day. I have another day of nine more holes and then game time.”
Woods looked like a player who was capable of competing when he played nine holes both Sunday and Monday. He practiced Tuesday morning before the course was closed because of thunderstorms. A final nine-hole practice round was scheduled for Wednesday, he said.
When asked if he could win this week, Woods said, “I do.”
“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 not an easy walk to begin with. With the conditions my leg is in, it gets a little bit more difficult. Seventy-two holes is a long road. It’s going to be a tough challenge and a challenge I’m up for.”
Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, said Woods looked “phenomenal” during their Monday practice round with Justin Thomas. Golf Channel’s Tuesday coverage from Augusta National’s range showed Woods hitting drives with a 174 mph ball speed – three miles per hour faster than the TOUR average this season – and a carry distance of 298 yards.
“To hit it like that, now it’s just the walking part,” Couples said. “If he can walk around here for 72 holes, he’ll contend. He’s too good.”
This year’s Masters is the first at full capacity since Woods’ win here three years ago. His impact has been felt. Bryson DeChambeau was on the driving range Monday when he heard a roar come from the first tee area after Woods emerged from the clubhouse. Jon Rahm compared the crowd following Woods on Monday to the type of gallery usually seen on a weekend here.
“You can feel it,” Rahm said. It looks like the excitement will continue for a few more days.
Source = PGA Tour & Augusta