[PHOTO: Augusta National]

Among the plethora of news snippets that came out of five-time Masters winner Tiger Woods’ press conference on Tuesday at Augusta National was a back-and-forth with a reporter that showed the resolve he still has to win.

Woods is 48, he has played one full round of golf on the PGA Tour this year and has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in 2019. In fact, he hasn’t had a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since the 2020 Famers Insurance Open won by Marc Leishman – before his single-car accident in Los Angeles in February 2021.

Still, the golf world holds out hope that Woods can defy age – the Masters record for oldest winner is Jack Nicklaus at 46 in 1986 – and injuries to win the Masters this week. Given 25 Masters’ worth of experience, no active player has a better strike rate at Augusta National.

On Thursday morning, US time, Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson will hit the ceremonial first tee shots to get the 88th Masters started.

On Tuesday, Woods was asked if, at 48, he has ever pictured himself being an honorary starter on the first tee, or a ceremonial golfer who plays the Masters in his 40s, 50s and 60s more as a parade than a competitive threat. Masters champions receive a lifetime exemption although they are asked to step aside when they are no longer truly competitive.

The answer, in no uncertain terms, was no.

Reporter: Curious, you spoke about obviously your reverence for Augusta National, and Jack back in the day would always talk about he would resist to be a ceremonial golfer. And I just wonder for yourself, as the physical stuff has mounted and the challenges have come, where are you in that thought of where your golfing competition mortality is, if you will, for this place? And have you thought about being one of those starters down the line on the Thursday morning and that kind of thing?

Woods: “No, no.”

Reporter. Maybe not that far?

Woods: “No, I have not thought about being a starter here, no [laughter].”

Reporters. In a more immediate sense, in terms of playing, when you maybe don’t think that all things can come together and you can win as you do right now?

Woods: “Well, I still think I can. So I don’t know when that day [I’m no longer competitive] is, when that day comes, but I still think that I can. I haven’t got to that point where I don’t think I can.”

Woods will begin his 26th Masters appearance at 1:24pm, local time (Friday at 3:24am, Australian time), with Australia’s Jason Day and Californian Max Homa.