Will Tiger Woods play, can he win it? Latest news and reaction

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods believes he can win the Masters, and no matter what you think of the man and his checkered journey, his expressed article of faith means one thing:

You have to believe it too.

Michael Jordan. Tom Brady. Serena Williams. Over the decades, there have been a small handful of American athletes who can make almost anything happen and who have earned every benefit of the doubt during play. Tiger Woods is more than an honorary member of this club.

The question asked on Tuesday: “Do you think you can win the Masters this week?”

The answer came a nanosecond later: “Yes.”

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Man, that’s a par-5 long pulled from Woods’ declared forecast in November, at his first press conference after a car accident in February left his right leg so mutilated that amputation was on the table. . At his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, Woods said he no longer needed to compete at the highest level to live a fulfilling life, and that winning the 2019 Masters after his spinal fusion surgery was a satisfying endgame. for his career.

“After my back melt, I had to climb Mount Everest one more time,” he said then. “I had to do it, and I did it. This time around, I don’t think I’ll have the body to climb Everest, and that’s okay. … As for climbing at up the mountain again and reaching the top, I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation on my part.

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And yet there was Tiger at Augusta National on Tuesday, fully dressed in his mountaineering gear and fully prepared for a dizzying challenge. He admits he’s struggling to walk more than 13 months after suffering open fractures affecting his upper and lower tibia and fibula, and yet he’s ready to tackle a course laid out as one of the most forbidding walks in the world. golf.

At 46, Woods has rods, plates and screws in his reconstructed leg, and he hobbles from tee to green like a much older man trying to keep up with his grandkids. But he’s not a shooting guard, or a shortstop, or a slot receiver. His sport requires him to walk, not sprint. His sport allows him to stand still as he unleashes his greatness on the opposition, and right now Tiger’s golf game is almost all the way back.

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On Monday, after playing nine holes with his friend, Fred Couples called Woods’ power and accuracy “phenomenal” and predicted he would struggle as long as he could complete 72 holes. On Tuesday, after spending time with Tiger at his home in Jupiter, Fla., and watching his swing, Rory McIlroy said he wouldn’t be surprised if Woods put himself in a position to win on Sunday.

“I’m not surprised at anything he does anymore,” McIlroy said.

Anyone present in 2019 when Woods won his fifth Green Jacket would find it perfectly reasonable to believe he could top that triumph three years later. His ability to come back from professional, personal and physical adversity – and yes, without a doubt, much of that was self-inflicted – is matched only by his desire to perform on the biggest stage.

So two days before kicking off his first practice of the tournament, Woods was already talking about reaching the last nine on Sunday with a shot to tie Jack Nicklaus’ Masters title record and claim No. 6 at the same age Nicklaus did. won. his sixth in 1986. The return of the Golden Bear and the return of Tiger in 2019 rank among the two most indelible victories at Augusta National.

Watch every round of the 2022 Masters at Augusta National with Fox Sports on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try free for 14 days >

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If Woods wins this one, it would reduce those two moments to the size of a ball from distance.

“I don’t show up to an event unless I think I can win it,” he said.

And a quarter century after first breaking in here, Woods has arrived. He was asked what he would have said or thought in the days and weeks following his SUV accident if someone had told him he would be playing in this Masters in hopes of winning it.

“Well, at that time I was still in a hospital bed and was out for the next three months,” Woods replied. “I never left that hospital bed even to see my living room for three months. So it was a tough road. To finally get out of where I wasn’t in a wheelchair or on crutches and walk and where I still had other operations ahead of me, to say that I was going to be here again playing and talking to (journalists) would have been very unlikely.”

About as unlikely as winning 15 majors and equaling Sam Snead’s all-time record of 82 PGA Tour wins. But now Woods thinks he can win a 16th Major this weekend and break Snead’s record. He believes he still has the hands to achieve it. “I’ve been in worse situations and I’ve played and won tournaments,” he said. Fourteen years ago, Woods survived 91 holes with fractures and a torn ACL in his left leg to win the US Open.

He says his surgeons gave him a chance to win again on one leg. “Now it’s up to me to take the pain,” Woods said. He is the king of pain and the king of golf.

If Tiger Woods believes he can win this Masters, you’d be foolish not to believe him too.

This story originally appeared on the New York Post.

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