Tiger Woods “looked great” in the Masters tune-up.

As the world eagerly awaits news from Tiger Woods on whether he will play at the Masters next week – an announcement could come on Friday – Rory McIlroy on Wednesday gave even more thought to the idea that Woods could return to golf at the first Major of the year lent fuel.

In an interview with Golf Channel ahead of this week’s Valero Texas Open, the Northern Irishman said the 15-time Major champion “looked great” when he saw him at the Augusta National the day before. Both were at the club for practice rounds, with Woods reportedly being joined by his son Charlie and Justin Thomas.

“It’s incredible,” McIlroy, who lives about 20 minutes from Woods in South Florida, told the broadcaster. “I spent some time with him at his house a few weeks ago and at the time it didn’t look possible. He’s definitely made a lot of big strides in the past few weeks.”

McIlroy warned that the five-time Masters winner is “conservative” in his approach, but that he’s also “doing everything we can to play in the tournament.”

“If he plays,” said McIlroy, “it would be a monumental performance from where he was last year.”

Speculation of Woods’ return began to trickle over the weekend when video surfaced of him practicing at his home Medalist court, where he was also joined by his caddy Joe LaCava. Then on Tuesday, Woods’ jet was picked up by several locations that track planes on their flight from South Florida to Augusta, Georgia.

Although Wood’s agent did not respond to a text message from The Post asking for comment on Tuesday, a source who knows Woods well told The Post that he believes Woods will actually play. One player, who declined to be named, also thinks it’s likely Woods will try.

No one could say for sure, though, and Woods himself might not even know. Much will likely depend on how the 46-year-old’s body feels in the days after traversing the notoriously hilly Augusta National and whether he feels he can withstand a full week of major championship golf.

Will he or won’t he? Tiger Woods is yet to say if he plans to play this year’s Masters.
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Woods has not competed in a PGA Tour event since sustaining multiple serious injuries in a high-speed car crash outside of Los Angeles in February 2021. The accident resulted in multiple surgeries on his right leg, including the lower leg and ankle.

Last December, Woods played the 36-hole PNC Championship, an unofficial tournament, with his son Charlie, but used a cart to get around the Orlando golf course. In February, Woods also said he had made significant progress since then but remained non-binding as to when he would return to the tour, saying only that he would be playing a limited schedule going forward.

Rory McIlroy

If he makes it, Woods would certainly come back with open arms from the fans and his comrades-in-arms.

“I think for golf and for the Masters tournament and for everyone else it would be phenomenal to have Tiger there,” McIlory said during his San Antonio news conference. “I think it just adds to the event. Obviously it does. Everything Tiger Woods does in the game of golf is enhanced whenever he’s there. I mean it would be great for him to be there. you know he was there [Tuesday] obvious and he’s trying to see what he can do. Obviously no one but him knows if he can do it.”

Even the notion that Woods might be able to play as early as next week given the extent of his injuries is remarkable.

“I’ve said that so many times, but from March 2017 fast forward two years and he’s winning the Masters and where he’s been with his body and what he had to do to get himself reasonably healthy again. And it’s not even about being healthy, it’s also what he needs to do before and after the round to prepare to play golf,” McIlroy said. “Yes, the sheer will and perseverance, yes, it’s incredible. If he bounces back from it, it’s just that he likes to prove people wrong.

“Regardless of when he comes back, whether it’s next week or a couple of weeks, a couple of months later, he’s a wonderful addition to the game and the game of golf is better when he’s playing and when he’s playing well.”

Unlike a PGA Tour event, the Masters doesn’t have a deadline to commit to. That means Woods could wait until next week to announce if he’ll play, although in similar situations in the past he’s announced his intentions on the Friday before Masters week. Tiger Woods “looked great” in the Masters tune-up.


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