Unbreakable: 13 months after the accident that nearly cost him his right leg, Tiger Woods, barring last-minute setbacks, will return to the Augusta Masters, the land of his greatest exploits where he even believes he can win for the sixth time. “If things continue as they are, I will play,” the 46-year-old American told reporters on Tuesday. He plans to test himself one last time on Wednesday, a day before the tournament starts. “It’s about knowing how my body will recover from that effort and what it can do the next day,” said the 15 Majors winner, which was gained by overcoming intense pain.
Back more than a year after a road accident
How many times did we think he got lost in golf? Every time he got up. Everything from ruptured cruciate ligaments and Achilles tendons and injuries to the neck and cervical vertebrae after a first car crash also reveals soul ache, from alcohol and drugs, from five back surgeries, some of which are risky.
And so, now, from this horrific wild ride that took place on February 23, 2021 near Los Angeles, which he considered himself lucky to have survived. He narrowly avoided amputation, due to multiple open fractures in his right leg that required the insertion of a metal rod into his cane, and screws to support the bones of his foot and ankle.
Returning to play here seemed unlikely to me.
Woods was hospitalized for weeks and was unable to walk for several months. “It has been a difficult road,” he said. “A return to playing here seemed very unlikely to me at the time.” While the golf world wondered if he’d ever be able to walk normally again, Woods still expressed a desire to get up to get back into golf. But at the age of 46, his body was bruised a lot, wasn’t he kidding himself?
Obviously it would be a misunderstanding of the man, the hero, the survivor, to imagine him giving up. But his first public appearance, with a cane and then orthopedic tights, did not bode well for such a swift return. Not later than February at the Genesis Invitational, a tournament he sponsors, witnesses have noted difficulty raising and lowering his foot.
A resurgence is making the world of golf in turmoil
His unexpected presence last week in Augusta – where he has been crowned five times, most recently in 2019 after two years of a very delicate spinal fusion – was to test his physical condition at the legendary track, notably in the company of his 13-year-old son-born Charlie, who recently made a photo Mini golf to boiling. Woods, who automatically appears on the roster as a former winner, didn’t scratch his name from the 86th edition, keeping the suspense becoming less and less significant on Sunday, when he returned to Georgia for a second session.
Smiling, content, comfortable with his swing, not betraying difficulty in walking, “Tiger” appeared in a new pair of shoes that matched his needs. He cautioned, however, that his decision to take part in the tournament would be made at the last minute, Thursday. He finally announced it two days ago, with official reservations, after completing another nine-hole session, in front of thousands of jubilant fans.
What can a tiger achieve after 17 months of not playing?
The question now arises, because we are talking again about the Tiger golfer, the competitor, knowing what the 873rd can achieve in the world in the Masters, after 17 months without playing – his last tournament was the 2020 edition of the Masters postponed to November due to Covid-19 . Because Augusta is only a walk in the park, Woods, who has always crossed the pieces there and knows every nook and cranny, knows that the slopes and unevenness will be his main difficulties. He agreed, “I can hit the ball really well. I have no doubts about what I can do in golf. Walking is the hard part.”
How his right leg will respond to repeated efforts is the big question. But we’re talking about a champion who won the US Open in 2008 despite having a knee tear and a double stress fracture in his shin bone. Twenty-five years after winning his first out of fifteen majors at Augusta, Tiger is ready to call again. He even warned the competition, “I think I can win the Masters this week.”