Tiger Woods talked about winning this Masters. He walks.

Augusta, GA – It’s as if two different tournaments are being played for Tiger Woods: one in which he can compete for the sixth Masters Championship, and one in which just a walk on the track can be a worthy ceremony of awarding a jacket of his own. The first version of Woods had been played before, and at 46 he was here again, with the necessary juices.

The second version is unprecedented, and on Thursday afternoon, as he climbed the 18th fairway at the Augusta National Golf Club with a hook in step, he cursed if it wasn’t more appealing. He has won 15 major championships and has long defined success in one way or another: either he lifts the trophy or not. For a day, maybe a week it has shifted. When Woods was asked if the win was just what he did on Thursday – throwing a steady 1-under-71 at the restored right leg, which now has enough equipment to fill the aisle at Home Depot – his response was quick: “Yes” .

“If you could see what my leg looked like where it is now,” Woods said. “Photos, some of the guys know. They saw the photos and went into the house. To see where I was. Getting out of here, ‘and he smiled,’ was no easy task.

Only Woods knows what his right foot felt after the round. Only Woods can imagine what this can feel like three more loops around this wavy pattern, where each rack seems to require one hip to be raised above the other. Only Woods knows what work has been done to bring his body into the shape in which he must have it to compete here.

“People have no idea how hard it was,” he said.

So let’s not sell it short: in the competition for the first time in 17 months – after the postponed Masters 2020 pandemic – what he did on Thursday was amazing. Say it like this: Justin Thomas is a former world number one with perfect health at 28 years old. He scored 76. Jordan Spit won the Masters and finished four times in the top three as well as a sharp 28. He shot 74. John Ram was the favorite in betting, the US Open champion at 27. He also scored 74.

Woods had a car accident, recovery and dismissal – and during the day he beat them all.

“If you haven’t played any competitions in a long time, you tend to be less sharp and mentally sharp,” said none other than Jack Nicklaus. And then the only person who won more majors than Woods caught himself and thought about the subject he was talking about.

“I don’t think I would ever blame Tiger for his mental insight,” Nicklaus said, “because I think Tiger is mentally fantastic.”

The hard walk was shocking: for Tiger Woods, the Masters is a trek

What the Master describes when he is a factor: fantastic. There are no limits to what you can have fun when it comes to Woods in August. There’s normal stuff like when he got stuck his tee shot at par-3 six by two feet. When he made the next blow to the bird, his fists flew into the air as if someone had made a half-bark.

“The place was electric,” he said.

He didn’t even have to be meant for that to be the case. The massive hand-held leaderboards here leave a small space in the corner to show the position of the players approaching the green on a given hole. When Woods prepared to strike a second blow on the eighth par-5 – blind, from a descent down a hill where the gallery could not see him – the board turned, turning “Deschambo” and “Smith” into “Neman” above “Oosthuizen” on top of “Woods” .

Next to Woods’ name: red 1, denoting 1 under para. That’s all it took for a wave of applause to sweep the rostrum, mixed with a few explosions of “Tiger!” He didn’t even show up. He was still shivering.

But he also put golf. He used his mind to recover from prison situations on the seventh and 18th – a pair of pine straws that combined creativity with computing. Even with dismissal he can think his own way.

The question then was physical. Take par-4 14th, where Woods’ tee sailed to the left of a large pine tree. The next shot from the approach looked insidious. Given the condition of his leg, could he commit to pulling it out?

Everything you need to know about Masters 2022

“I was going to do that, ”Woods said, smiling. “Yes, I had a break. I had a window. I was going to hit. “

This answer was the face that led to the appearance here. Think you can’t? Yes, I can. On that ball of pine needles beat. He found himself in the back of the green.

So we know that in these parallel tournaments – in which the appearance is a victory, and in which the victory is determined by the number – Woods fights in both. Given this, the context should return to his master’s degree. His five points in the first round in those years: 70, 70, 70, 74 and 70. His deficit in throws: three, five, three, seven and four. His position: fourth, 15th, seventh, 33rd and 11th.

So 71, trailing by four strokes, became the 10th? Sounds not so bad.

Woods then walked out of the clubhouse to address a bunch of reporters. To do this, he needed to climb the box that lifted him over the crowd. He deliberately stepped on the first left foot, not giving weight to the right, before saying under his breath, “Are you here to hear me sing?”

The way the crowd reacted to him on Thursday, if he had uttered at least one vague note, he would have been very excited. Masters will be identified over the next three days. Tiger Woods’ body may or may not allow him to fight. However, there is a victory, and it is even an opportunity.

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