Tiger Woods ‘looked great’ at Masters tune-up

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While the world eagerly awaits word from Tiger Woods on whether he’ll play in next week’s Masters — an announcement could come on Friday — Rory McIlroy on Wednesday added more fuel to the idea that Woods could make his return to golf at the year’s first major .

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

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

McIlroy cautioned that the five-time Masters winner is being “conservative” in his approach but that he is also “doing everything he can to play” in the tournament.

“If he does play,” McIlroy said, “it would be a monumental achievement from where he was last year.”

Speculation about Woods’ return began to percolate over the weekend when a video surfaced showing him practicing at his home course, Medalist, where he was also joined by his caddy Joe LaCava. Then on Tuesday, Woods’ jet was picked up by multiple sites that track airplanes as it flew from South Florida to Augusta, Ga.

Though Woods’ agent didn’t respond to a text message from The Post on Tuesday seeking comment, one source who knows Woods well told The Post that he believes Woods will indeed play. A player who did not want to be identified also thinks it’s likely Woods will try to give it a go.

No one could say for certain, though, and Woods himself might not even know yet. Much will likely depend on how the 46-year-old’s body feels in the days after having traversed notoriously hilly Augusta National and whether he feels it will be able to hold up for an entire week of major championship golf.

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

Last December, Woods did play the 36-hole PNC Championship, an unofficial tournament, with his son Charlie but used a cart to get around the Orlando course. In February, Woods also said that he’d made significant progress since then but remained noncommittal about when he would compete on tour again, saying only that he would play a limited schedule moving forward.

Rory McIlroy
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If he is able to tee it up, Woods would certainly be welcomed back with open arms, by fans and his fellow competitors.

“I think for golf and for the Masters tournament and for everyone, to have Tiger there would be phenomenal,” McIlory said during his press conference in San Antonio. “I think it just adds to the event. Obviously, it does. Anything Tiger Woods does in the game of golf is heightened whenever he’s there. I mean, it would be awesome for him to be there. You know, he was there [Tuesday] obviously and he’s trying to see what he can do. Obviously no one knows but him if he can make it around.”

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

“I’ve said this so many times, but from basically March of 2017 fast-forward two years and he wins the Masters and where he was with his body and what he had to do to get back to being somewhat healthy. And it’s not even being somewhat healthy, it’s also what he has to do before the round and after the round just to get himself ready to go and play golf,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, the sheer will and perseverance, yeah, it is incredible. If he comes back from this again, it’s just, he likes to prove people wrong.

“Regardless of when he does come back, whether it’s next week or a few weeks, few months down the line, 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, there is no deadline to commit for the Masters. That means Woods could wait until next week to announce whether he’ll play, though in similar situations in the past he has announced his intentions on the Friday before Masters week.

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