Challenge accepted: Tiger Woods plays at Masters 2022 and he plays to win

Augusta, Georgia – The answer was painfully obvious, but the question still had to be asked.

Do you think you can win?

“I am.”

After all, Tiger Woods is here.

And it was as if he had never left, as if the last 14 grueling months had not happened, as if he had not received life-threatening injuries in that one-car accident in Southern California on February 23, 2021.

Even for an athlete who has struggled with injuries for most of the two decades, this year has been horrific. At the hospital, he said doctors were considering amputation. Months of inactivity at home. Go from wheelchair on crutches to short walks. Painful recovery, tedious rehabilitation, frustrating lack of progress.

Tiger believes he can win the Masters

“I worked hard,” he said, but hard work has never been a deterrent. It’s a challenge that drives them. Rory McIlroy said Woods doesn’t just like to prove people wrong – he likes to prove alone also wrong. And without 72 holes to saturate it, the recovery stages have become a competition – and it is about to win the main one.

“No one has the kind of work ethic and determination he has,” Justin Thomas said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in terms of tuning in to something and setting a goal and proving to yourself and everyone that you can do it. It’s incredible what he can do given everything. ”

Woods plays in this 86th Masters. Officially, it was a “decision during the game.” Then his status was raised on Tuesday when he told us that “at this point” his plan was to compete. But don’t be restrained.

Last week he didn’t play 27 holes in one day when not playing.

He doesn’t show up here on the grind three days in a row when he’s not playing.

Full field with the 86th Masters Tournament

He can’t stand hours and hours of treatment and therapy before and after the round, just to show up here, clap for a few days, think No, I can’tand the plane home.

He plays.

And if Tiger Woods plays, well, then Tiger Woods believes he can win.

“I can impress well,” he said. “I don’t regret what I can do physically in terms of golf.”

This was evident in three days of practice here at Augusta National. He has a lot of pop. His ball speed returned to the same pleasant place in the mid-170s. It can vary its trajectories. Take pictures in both directions. Hope for a wide range of great shots in a short game and a hard kick that after so many absences seem as sharp as ever.

“It’s a lot, good enough to play well,” Thomas said.

Fred Parry added: “He looked phenomenal.”

Like never before.

But this is not a problem.

“The hard part is walking,” Woods said. “It’s usually not an easy walk to get started. Now, given the condition of my leg, it’s getting even harder. You know, 72 holes is a long way, and it’s going to be a tough challenge, and it’s a challenge that I’m ready for. “

Tiger explains that the restoration is in practice for the Masters

Tiger explains that the restoration is in practice for the Masters

He has demonstrated this readiness throughout his long, legendary and injury-rich career. 2008 US Open on one leg. Return season after the merger operation. Masters 2019, when it was worked on until the early hours of the night, and then early in the morning, when everyone gathered for this fifth green jacket. Now, after the accident, after the traumatic injuries, after he received open fractures of both the upper and lower right leg and needed a metal rod to stabilize it, his physiotherapists and coach face an even more comprehensive task. They’ve all done it before. And they are wanted again.

“It’s not something I didn’t do,” Woods said, “but it took longer on both sides.”

And the pain?

He laughed to himself. “Yes, there is,” he said. “Eat every day.”

And here he too will play through the pain, though as much as Woods is unlikely to ever say, the product of his military upbringing. He will feel it everywhere in Augusta National: on the hill, on the descent, on the side. He will feel it happening on the eighth, ninth and 18thth fairways. He will feel it going down to the second, 10th and 15th fairways. As he said on Tuesday, the only level is 18 boxes.

BY Golf Channel Digital

Here’s a look at the time of the meeting in the first and second rounds of the 86th Masters Tournament in August National.

Treatment can relieve some inflammation, and Metal FootJoy spikes can provide ankle stability, but this is Woods ’new reality. His doctors told him that eventually he would feel better and play with less discomfort. But mobility problems will probably remain forever. That didn’t stop him from playing. Still not yet.

“I feel I can still compete at the highest level,” he said. “If I feel I can still win, I’m going to play. If I feel like I can’t, you won’t see me here.

“I don’t come to an event if I don’t think I can win it. That was my attitude. There will be a day when that doesn’t happen and I’ll know when it happens, but the physical problem this week is that I don’t have to worry about hitting the ball or playing golf – it’s actually just here the hills. It will be a challenge, and it will be a challenge of a major marathon. “

Woods was asked what a successful week at the Masters was, and he allowed himself at least a moment to reflect.

“I think what I’ve been able to get here to this point is a success,” he said.

He shouted at his surgeons, physiotherapists and coaches just for the fact that they, no matter what, give him the opportunity to pursue a career at 46 years old.

“Grateful,” he said. “Very, very grateful.”

But now that he’s here, now that he’s 48 hours before playing time, now that it’s clear that he won’t just play, but will probably play well … he had little trouble transitioning into hyper-competition mode.

“I feel like I can still do it,” he said.

And to doubt it would be unreasonable.

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