A student of the craziest game on earth, Tiger Woods always appreciated the ferocity of Ben Hogan and how his indomitable will inspired the mother of all comebacks.
“I mean, he got hit by a bus and came back and won big championships,” Woods once said.
That’s right. Hogan won the 1950 US Open just 16 months after a Greyhound bus emerged from a Texas fog and crashed head-on into his Cadillac, nearly killing him.
“The pain he had to endure,” Woods said many years later, “the things he had to do just to play, the leg wrapping, all the hot tubs and how hard it was for him to walk … and him.” He ended up going 36 holes and winning a US Open.”
Not even 14 months after nearly losing his right leg in an SUV accident south of Los Angeles, Woods is apparently trying to surpass Hogan the late, great Hogan. According to SI.com’s Bob Harig, he trained with his son Charlie and good pal Justin Thomas in a test ride for his surgically altered body at Augusta National on Tuesday to see if he can really pitch it at next week’s Masters.
This was an amazing development on a surreal day when social media detectives were tracking Tiger’s private jet as he traveled from Stuart, Fla. to Augusta, his home away from home. No one was sure in the weeks following his accident if or when 46-year-old Woods would ever run a full 18 holes again. No one was sure in the weeks following his accident if Woods would be ready for the 2023 Masters.
Now he’s ready for the Masters 2022? How in nine days?
And if the five-time Masters champion shows up a week before Thursday, it probably means one thing clear: he thinks there’s at least one outside shot he can leave Sunday night as a six-time Masters champion.
Tiger Woods never enters a tournament unless he believes he has a chance of winning it.
When he returned from spinal fusion surgery in 2018, Tiger called himself “a walking miracle.” Before he would win the 2019 Masters with the most convincing performance, he said his kids thought of him as a “YouTube golfer,” a champion only in the highlights packages. “All they knew was that golf was causing me a lot of pain,” Woods said.
If he decides he’s ready for the Masters, he’ll surely feel the pain. The hills of Augusta National are one of the most forbidding walks in golf, even for a pro who did not suffer “open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula” as of February 2021, which Woods put in a leaves hospital for three weeks and in a hospital bed at home for three months. This won’t be anything like the cute little father-son outing at December’s PNC Championship, when Woods pounded 350-yard drives and hit precise, tiger-of-old approaches but heavy on use benefited from a car, the Flat Course and 12-year-old Charlie’s own shotmaking in scramble format.
He was told at the time that Matt Kuchar had signed his game up for Tour competition, and Woods replied, “No, I totally disagree. I’m not at that level. I can’t go up against those guys right now.” Tiger would distinguish this latest comeback attempt from his 2018 comeback, saying that it “was about whether or not I was going to have prosthetic limbs, and I don’t have them.” .
In November, during his first press conference since his crash, Woods called himself “lucky to be alive and still have the member.” He admitted that a full-time return to the PGA Tour is implausible.
“I can’t imagine this leg ever being the way it was,” he said. “The clock is ticking. I’m getting older. … It all adds up to a busy schedule – and the rest that would require that – no, I don’t feel like it. But ramping it up for a few events a year … like Mr. Hogan did , and he did a pretty good job, there’s no reason I couldn’t do it.”
Hogan was 37 when he lasted 90 holes and won a US Open playoff at Merion in what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called “the most remarkable comeback in the history of the sport” the next day. Woods is 9 years older. So if he could somehow compete next week and somehow compete Sunday and somehow match Jack Nicklaus’ record six green jackets, his rousing 2019 Masters triumph would feel a little small. It might even knock Hogan off the top of the leaderboard.
But first things first: Tiger Woods has yet to make it to the first tee at Augusta National on April 7th.
We have already learned that betting against him is not a good idea.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/29/dont-bet-against-a-tiger-woods-masters-miracle/ Don’t bet against a Tiger Woods Masters miracle