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Tiger Woods Arrives at Augusta National as Masters Speculation Swirls

Five-time Masters champion fuels talk of whether he will play next week.
Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is a five-time Masters champion, his last coming in 2019. 

Tiger Woods was at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday to play the course where he has won five Masters and to assess whether he will be fit to compete in the tournament next week.

The 15-time major winner arrived at the course in the morning along with his son Charlie, according to a source who asked not to be identified. Woods was seen on the driving range with South Florida neighbor Justin Thomas before heading to play.

It is believed to be the first time that Charlie Woods, 13, has played at Augusta National.

The 2022 Masters would be Woods’ first official tournament since a serious car crash on Feb. 23, 2021, that left him hospitalized for weeks and unable to walk for months. He returned in December to play a 36-hole exhibition with Charlie at the PNC Championship where the duo finished second to John Daly and his son, John Jr.

But Woods rode a cart there and made clear there was a big difference between a scramble over 36 holes while riding a cart and performing for real on the PGA Tour.

“I’m talking about playing golf," said Woods in February at the Genesis Invitational, where he was tournament host. "That’s a practice round, a pro-am day, or if it’s a major. ... it’s 12 rounds. It’s the competitive nature, how much that takes out of you mentally, physically, emotionally. I haven’t prepared for any of that. Going for a walk, I can do that. Am I going to be sore? Hell, yeah, but I can do that."

Various internet and plane-tracking sleuths reported the movements of Woods’ private jet from an airport in Stuart, Florida, near his home, to Augusta earlier Tuesday. One of them was Radar Spots (@radarspots), which tweeted a play by play of Woods’ flight.

Eureka Earth, which is based at the Augusta airport, tweeted a photo and video of Woods’ private jet after it had landed.

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The source said that Charlie Woods was hitting balls on the range, while Thomas, a good family friend, was also in attendance. Charlie was reported to have played the course with his dad. Others at Augusta National on Tuesday were Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy.

In his few public comments, Woods has made it clear that he would never play a full schedule again, that he could see a limited amount of events in which he prepares for the major championships and a few others, and that the process was a long one due to the injuries to his right leg and foot. In addition to broken bones in the foot, Woods was reported to have ankle issues and has said he was fortunate to not have part of his leg amputated.

The trip to Augusta was likely to see how Woods would handle walking the hilly course. Woods does not have to disclose if he intends to play until next week, where he could in theory test his ability to play more practice rounds before a final decision.

In recent years when injuries made his decision to play uncertain, he did not disclose his intentions until the Friday prior to tournament week.

For the first time in his career, Woods missed the 2014 Masters due to his first microdiscectomy for his lower back. A year later, after back issues led to considerable chipping woes, Woods took a nine-week break after withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open, and returned at the Masters.

But in each of the next two years, Woods said he was trying to come back, but waited until the Friday prior to say he was withdrawing. In both those year, 2016 and 2017, Woods then did not play for the rest of the year.

Woods last played at the 2020 Masters that was contested in November that year and he tied for 38th. He was ranked 33rd in the world at the conclusion of the tournament. Having not played since, he has dropped to 944th in the world. He won the last of his five Masters titles in 2019.  

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- Golf's (Augusta) National Treasure: 99-Year-Old Jackie Burke
- Updated Field List for 2022 Masters
- This Teenager is Masters' Most Improbable Participant
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