Tiger Woods plans to compete in the 86th Masters this week, less than 14 months after suffering serious injuries in an horrific car crash in February 2021.
The 15-time major winner, who feared shortly after the accident that his right leg would have to be amputated, has not contested a top-level event since the 2020 Masters..
The 46-year-old, who competed in the PNC Championship with son Charlie last December, played a practice round at Augusta last week and nine holes on both Sunday and Monday.
“As of right now, I feel like I am going to play,” Woods said in his pre-tournament press conference.
Asked if he thought he could win a 16th major title this week, Woods said: “I do.”
Asked what his overriding emotion was on being able to compete at Augusta, Woods said: “Thankful.
“Very, very thankful for everyone’s support, everyone who has been involved in my process and the work I have put in each and every day.
“The amount of texts and FaceTimes and calls I have gotten has meant a lot.”
Woods said he had been driven by his desire to compete and win again, adding: “I feel like if I can still compete at the highest level I am going to, but if I feel like I can’t, you won’t see me out here.
“I don’t show up to an event unless I think I can win it.”
Woods recovered from spinal fusion surgery in 2017 to win his fifth Masters title two years later.
He finished 38th in the defence of his crown in November 2020 and missed last year’s tournament following his car crash.
Woods added: “The fact that I was able to get myself here at this point was a success and now that I am playing, everything is focused on getting in that position on the back nine on Sunday with a chance like I did a few years ago.
“I feel like I can still do it. I still have the hands to do it, the body is moving well enough. I have been in worse situations and won tournaments
Meanwhile, a severe storm caused an early halt to Tuesday’s second day of practice for the 86th Masters at Augusta National, with players and spectators cleared from the course.
Inclement weather and safety concerns caused tournament officials to halt the session at 10:55am local time (1455 GMT) with the grounds not to be reopened due to forecasts for more intense storms later in the day.
“The safety of everyone at Augusta National was the determining factor in the decision to suspend Tuesday’s practice round and evacuate the grounds,” Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said.
Ticket purchasers will be given the chance to buy the same tickets for next year’s second practice day.
“We share in the disappointment of our patrons, though we look forward to welcoming them back next year,” Ridley said.
Sixh-ranked Cameron Smith of Australia, last month’s Players Championship winner, worried heavy rain would spoil conditions at the famed course as Thursday’s opening round looms.
“The course is probably the best I’ve seen. It’s unreal,” Smith said. “Hopefully we don’t get too much rain this afternoon. I think that may ruin the condition of it and the playability of it a little bit.”