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Tiger Woods in the Masters field until he says he’s not

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is he back

As impossible as it seems to imagine, given the severity of the accident involving a car in which he was involved in February 2021, a traumatic event that nearly saw his right leg amputated, but remains just days before Masters week Tiger Woods in the field… until he says he’s not.

Early Friday night, with Woods still among the players listed in the official field for Augusta National, this appears to be his path: carry on as if business is usual.

Even if business is never “normal” in Woods’ world.

Though many were waiting to hear something definitive from Woods on Friday, either confirmation of his game plan or an announcement that he was not yet physically fit, Woods was three days after setting the golfing world on fire when he was to a practice round at Augusta National, publicly silent on Tuesday.

Unlike a regular PGA Tour event, which requires a player to commit Friday afternoon, the Masters does not require a qualified competitor. So Woods didn’t have to announce his intentions on Friday if he decided against it. And apparently he decided against it.

The 46-year-old Woods, a five-time green jacket winner (his last being the memorable 2019 triumph that seemingly capped his remarkable comeback after microdisc surgery on his back), will play in his 24th Masters next week unless he says so us that he will not play.

If he actually plays, this one could be the most notable of them all – even his first in 1997 and his win in 2019 – because the odds seemed so unlikely.

Woods sustained serious injuries to his right leg and right foot in the February 23, 2021 car accident. The SUV he was driving crossed two lanes of traffic, hit a curb and uprooted a tree on a downhill stretch of a steep road just outside of Los Angeles.

Woods was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center by ambulance with open fractures in the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula in his right leg. It all made for not only an unlikely return anytime soon, but possibly not at all likely.

But Woods, who in the few times he has spoken publicly since the crash has insisted on setting the bar low for his recent return to the sport from injury, has always been highly motivated to defy the odds.

All along, a return to the Masters seemed hard to imagine given the difficulty of trekking in Augusta National with its heavily undulating hills. Woods said while speaking at the Hero World Challenge in November that the golf shots as part of his recovery aren’t as difficult as just the stamina it takes to get to the courses.

Playing with his son Charlie in the PNC Championship father-son event in December, Wood’s shot and ball strike looked remarkably sharp considering how short it was since the accident that left him hospitalized and wheelchair-bound for weeks tied when he returned home to Florida.

Woods had stressed that the father-son event, which he called “hit and giggles” golf, was not a true barometer of PGA Tour tournament golf.

“I wish I could tell you when I’m playing again,” Woods said on Feb. 16 at the Genesis Invitational. “I want to know, but I don’t know. My golf activity was very limited. I’m really good at chipping and putting and hitting short irons really well, but I haven’t done long stuff seriously. i’m still working I’m still working on walking.”

It always felt like July’s British Open at St Andrews – the 150th anniversary of the game’s oldest major championship – was the most obvious place for him to return to competition. Woods has won two Open Championships at St Andrews and the course is very flat making it much easier to walk than most courses.

But Woods appears to have made amazing progress in the quiet of his own training at home in Florida.

One sign was clear when he arrived in Augusta for that practice round on Tuesday: He would not have made this trip had he not believed his golf game was in a place that would allow him to compete for a sixth green jacket , which would tie Jack Nicklaus for the most in tournament history.

Wood’s exploration was to see how he physically tackled the 18-hole walk that day – and how his body recovered from it. Those were the questions Woods had to answer before committing to play.

It has been approximately 500 days since Woods last played an official PGA Tour event. This last round played was the final round of the 2020 Masters, held in November of the same year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He tied 38th after shooting 4-over-76 in the final round.

Addendum to Drama of the Week: This marks the 25th anniversary of Wood’s first Masters win in 1997.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/02/tiger-woods-in-masters-field-until-he-says-hes-not/ Tiger Woods in the Masters field until he says he’s not

JOE HERNANDEZ

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