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The five-time champion on Sunday tweeted that he was traveling to Augusta National Golf Club to continue his “preparation and practice” amid growing speculation about him competing in the tournament, which begins Thursday.
Woods has been seen on the golf course multiple times recently, and he played at the PNC Championship in December. But he has yet to compete in an event this year and has said he wouldn’t compete on the PGA Tour full time.
Last Tuesday, golf fans and internet sleuths appeared to track the movements of Woods’ private jet, with Eureka Earth tweeting an image of Woods’ plane apparently landing at Augusta Regional Airport.
After touching down, Woods played a practice round at Augusta to gauge how his body reacted to walking the course, Sports Illustrated reported. Woods arrived at the course with his son, Charlie, and they later were joined by golfer Justin Thomas in Tiger’s practice-round group.
Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion who was at Augusta Tuesday, said having Woods back in the fold would be great for the sport.
“I think for golf and for the Masters tournament and for everyone, to have Tiger there would be phenomenal,’’ McIlroy said at TPC San Antonio, where he was competing in the Valero Texas Open. “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 yesterday obviously, and he’s trying to see what he can do. Obviously, no one knows but him if he can make it around.”
Woods 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. Woods was recovering from a fifth back surgery when he crashed his SUV over a median on a suburban coastal road in Los Angeles. The SUV tumbled down the side of a hill.
Doctors said Woods shattered tibia and fibula bones in the crash.
“The truth is you have to take each injury one step at a time,” orthopedic surgeon Rahul Shah told Fox News Digital. “If you kind of chronicle his injuries, you start with multiple bumps and bruises growing up, and then he had the significant torquing injury to his back where he blew out one of his discs.
“Then he gets into this unfortunate accident, and what I can tell from what was leaked to the media, it seemed like it was going to be a while before he came back. And he’s made a significant recovery even faster than expected.”
In December, Woods competed with Charlie at the PNC Championship, though Tiger did use a cart. After the tournament, Tiger pumped the brakes on a potential return.
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.”
Woods has made 23 career starts at 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 tournament in 2020.
The first round of the 86th Masters begins April 7 and runs through April 10. Hideki Matsuyama is the defending champion.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and the Associated Press contributed to this report
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