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It had been ;more than 500 days since we've seen the competitive fist pump, signifying a Tiger Woods birdie or eagle.

The pre-Masters' conversations regarding Wood's recovery and comeback from a near-fatal and potentially career-ending automobile accident 14 months, focused on his' ability to compete at the highest level--for four straight days in one of the Four Major tournaments.

When asked earlier this week if he thought he could win his sixth Masters championship , Woods did not waffle. ""Yes, I do.'' he said.

As the golf world and beyond watched his recovery process, the 46-year old golfer who is in any debate as the greatest golfer of all time, made clear that his "golf'' skills and ability to adapt his game to any course in the world, should not have been the issue,

"Yes, Tiger still has his "A'' game. He can make the key sand save or the long winding putt or the scramble out of trouble.

That was again on display in Thursday's opening round at Augusta National when Woods made almost every shot he needed, turning in a steady, and at times spectacular one under par round of .71,  which put him on the first page of a Masters leader board .

What is going to matter with Woods is what happens as soon as he walked off the 18th green on Thursday and what happens until Wood's second round tee-time on Friday afternoon.

How quickly can Woods' body--specifically his right leg which has been surgically repaired for injuries which were so severe that doctors considered amputation--recover?

And the process will have to repeated through a four-round cycle on one of the most difficult walking courses on the PGA tour.

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That is the unknown factor which no one, including Woods can answer before it happens.

Even one round of golf--even a five hour session walking session .instead of a normal 3.5 hour golf cart aided round--might be too much for this latest episode of the Tiger recovery tour.

Yes, Tiger must have an equally impressive effort on Friday which will put him in Saturday's third round. 

But after watching his round  on Thursday, no one can question Woods' ability to play golf at the highest level.

One round is not two or even three or four.

How much pain and discomfort Woods' can tolerate is the real story that is being written at Augusta National this weekend.

""The idea is to keep pushing, ''he said after the round.

How much pushing his body will tolerate AFTER each round is the unanswered question.

When asked in a a television interview how he would handle the recovery time until Friday's second round, Woods said, with a smile

"Lots of ice.''
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