Published On: Tue, Apr 9th, 2024

Tiger Woods gives honest assessment of Masters hopes after injury admission | Golf | Sport


Tiger Woods, the American golfing superstar, has opened up about his ongoing battle with pain as he sets his sights on a record-equalling sixth Masters title this weekend. Despite only participating in six full Tour events since his horrific car crash in February 2021, the 48-year-old is optimistic about his chances.

The 15-time Major winner, who hasn’t completed 72 holes for nearly 15 months, confessed: “I hurt every day”. Yet, Woods, who clinched his fifth Masters title in 2019 after overcoming years of scandal and surgeries, believes he can outdo himself in 2024.

He stated confidently: “If everything comes together, I think I can get one more,” adding: “Do I need to describe that any more than that, or are we good? “.

Woods, who once vowed never to become a “ceremonial golfer”, was asked if he had considered joining fellow legends Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson as an honorary starter. “I have not thought about being a starter here, no,” he said.

Even when things don’t go his way?  “Well, I still think they can,” Woods asserted. “So I don’t know when that day 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’t.”

Despite the challenges, Woods remains positive – a sentiment echoed by his friend Freddie Couples, with whom he played nine holes on Tuesday.

The 1992 champion queried, “Can he win here? ” and then confidently asserted, “You know what, yeah. I just watched him play nine holes, and nine holes is only nine holes on a Tuesday, but he never mis-hits a shot. But the idea of making a cut, I think he would laugh at that because that’s a huge record, but he’s here to win. He’s here to play really, really hard.”

Last year, at the grand age of 63 years and 187 days, Couples set a new benchmark as the oldest player to make the cut at this prestigious event.

Woods, who has matched the 23 consecutive cuts made here by Couples and Gary Player, could surpass this record this year. However, he had to withdraw before the third round could resume on Sunday last year due to plantar fasciitis, standing six-over par after seven holes in the challenging conditions of a cold and wet Saturday.

Since that setback, he completed all 72 holes at his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas last December but had to pull out from the Genesis Invitational in February during the second round’s seventh hole due to flu-like symptoms. Now, he’s bracing himself for the demanding walk across Augusta National’s undulating terrain, despite the persistent pain in his well-worn body.

“I hurt every day,” he admitted with a smile. When asked if it’s worse at this venue, he replied, “No, I ache every day. And I prefer it warm and humid and hot. And I know we’re going to get some thunderstorms. So at least it will be hot. It won’t be like last year.”

Storms may be on the horizon for Thursday’s opening rounds, where Tiger Woods is set to tee off at 1.24pm alongside Jason Day and Max Homa, yet the mercury is expected to soar to a comfortable 24 degrees Celsius. The golf legend, who underwent his fifth back surgery in December 2020 and had emergency surgery following a car crash to save his lower right leg, shared an update on his condition.

“The ankle doesn’t hurt anymore,” he said. “It’s fused. It’s not going anywhere. So that’s fine. It’s other parts of my body that now have to take the brunt of it. Once he put the rods in there, it’s good to go. But, the back, the knee, other parts of the body have to take the load of it. Things just flare up. Some days I just feel really good, and other days, not so much.”

Ditching his signature Nike baseball cap for his own Sun Day Red clothing line, Woods appeared every bit his 48 years during the pre-tournament press conference. He had previously stated in December that his goal was to play once a month this year, but has been absent from the game since February.

“I wasn’t ready to play,” he admitted. “My body wasn’t ready. My game wasn’t ready. But now we have major championships every month from here through July. So now the once a month hopefully kicks in.”

In addition, Woods let slip that he’s in the midst of discussions to potentially captain the US Ryder Cup team at Bethpage Black next year. “We’re still talking about it,” he revealed with a smile.



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