Only 14 months after he was pulled from a mangled car following a single-car accident in California, Tiger Woods has defied the odds to begin the 2022 Masters with a solid, under par round to be in contention.
Woods, who admitted amputating his right leg after the car crash in Los Angeles in February 2020 was an option considered, limped around Augusta National but managed a one-under-par 71 on Thursday.
The 2019 Masters winner – now world No.973 – played in front of enormous galleries even for his standards in his first official tournament since the 2020 Masters held in November.
The 46-year-old was rusty. The only par-5 of Augusta’s four that he birdied was the 13th, and he bogeyed the par-5 eighth from 50 yards.
The 46-year-old was rusty. The only par-5 of Augusta’s four that he birdied was the 13th, and he bogeyed the par-5 eighth from 50 yards. But Woods was still impressive as he went out in even-par 36 and home in 35 to shoot a 71. He saved par on 18 to sit four shots behind leader Sungjae Im from Korea (67), with Australia’s Cam Smith at four under (68).
The last time Woods played golf on TV was an exhibition tournament with his son Charlie in December last year, although he rode in a golf cart and let Charlie hit a lot of the scramble shots.
Still, he was satisfied with his return to the Major he’s won five times.
“I’m only three back, Woods said after his round. “To finish in the red today after as long a layoff as I’ve had and not being in competitive golf (is a positive). I don’t really consider a scramble (the father-son event he played in with Charlie Woods in December) to be competitive. It’s not like this. This is totally different.
“I was able to make a few putts and end up in the red like I am now.”Among the players the 15-time Major winner Woods beat today were world No.7 Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau (by five shots), Tommy Fleetwood (by four), Adam Scott (by three), and defending Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (by one).
All eyes were on Woods to see how he would handle the extreme hills of Augusta National with his injured right leg, which has forced him to switch from Nike to FootJoy shoes for competition and to walk with a noticeable walk. As Woods left the tee on No.9, he visibly winced as his right leg landed awkwardly. He grimaced through each of the next few steps.
He limped more and more as the day went on. “I figured once adrenaline kicks in … I should be able to handle my business,” Woods said.
Asked what he was going to do after the round, Woods said: “lots of ice.”