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Woods’ trip to Augusta was likely to gauge how his body reacts to walking the hilly course, according to Sports Illustrated. Woods arrived at the course with his son, Charlie, and they later were joined by golfer Justin Thomas in Tiger’s practice-round group.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Woods is still listed as a participant in the tournament after he was injured in a February car crash last year. Woods has not been included in the group of past champions who were sitting out, however, that could change as golfers have until tournament week to decide if they are playing.
To fuel additional speculation, golf fans, and internet sleuths appeared to track the movements of Woods’ private jet. Eureka Earth tweeted an image on Tuesday of Woods’ plane apparently landing at Augusta Regional Airport.
Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis on Monday called this week “critical” for Woods.
“This is a critical week for @tigerwoods to see if his body can sustain 72 holes at Augusta National,” Lewis wrote on Twitter. “He will exhaust every effort to play @TheMasters.”
Woods, 46, has yet to play in a competitive PGA Tour event since he suffered traumatic leg injuries in a single-car accident in late February 2021. In December, Woods competed with Charlie at the PNC Championship, though he did use a cart. After the tournament, Tiger pumped the brakes on a potential return.
“I’m not at that level,” Woods said. “I can’t compete again these guys right now, no. It’s going to take a lot of work to get to where I feel like I can compete at these guys and be at a high level.”
Following months of recovery, Woods again rebuffed the notion that his return was coming soon, during an interview with Jim Nantz at the Riviera Country Club late last month.
“I don’t know,” said Woods. “I can hit balls. The hard part is actually walking; that’s going to take some time. I’m going to have to put in the time and effort at home and do all the beach walks and walk golf courses.”
“It’s very easy at Medalist [a golf club in Florida] to hop in a cart and whip around and play a quick 18 or 36. It’s a little different deal than being out here with these guys and walk up and down the hills. The ankle mobility, over time the ankle swells, foot swells, leg swells. That’s just time,” Woods added.
Woods has made 23 career starts in the Masters, where he has 14 top-10 finishes. He put on his first Green Jacket in 1997 at age 21, and again during a career comeback in 2019 at age 43.
Woods also won the Masters in 2001, 2002 and 2005. He last played in the golf tournament in 2020.
The event is scheduled to begin on April 7. Hideki Matsuyama is the defending champion.