Tiger says Masters win can be his if 'everything comes together'

April 9, 2024, 12:49 PM

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Despite playing only 24 holes of golf in PGA Tour events this season, five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods believes he can win one more green jacket if "everything comes together" at Augusta National Golf Club this week.

Woods, 48, played a second nine-hole practice round with Justin Thomas and Fred Couples on Tuesday.

"If everything comes together, I think I can get one more," Woods said.

Woods' 26th appearance at the Masters will begin at 1:24 p.m. ET Thursday when he plays with Max Homa and Jason Day in the first round. The trio will tee off in Friday's second round at 10:18 a.m. ET.

Woods last played in a PGA Tour event at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles on Feb. 16. After carding a 1-over 72 in the first round, Woods had to withdraw after six holes in the second round because of the flu.

The 15-time major champion had previously said at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December that he hoped to play in a tournament per month if his body would allow it.

But after pulling out of the Genesis Invitational, Woods skipped the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship in March.

"Well, I wasn't ready to play," Woods said. "My body wasn't ready. My game wasn't ready. And I thought that when I was at Hero, once a month would be a really nice rhythm. Hasn't worked out that way. But now we have major championships every month from here through July, so now the once a month hopefully kicks in."

Since returning to professional golf after he suffered serious injuries in a car wreck outside Los Angeles in February 2021, Woods has withdrawn or missed the cut in four of his six starts. His two finishes were a tie for 45th in the 2023 Genesis Invitational and a solo 47th in the 2022 Masters.

Woods made the cut at the Masters last year but withdrew before the rain-delayed third round resumed after aggravating plantar fasciitis in his right foot. On April 19, 2023, he underwent surgery to address post-traumatic arthritis in his right ankle that was caused by injuries suffered in the car wreck.

"Well, the ankle doesn't hurt anymore," Woods said. "It's fused. It's not going anywhere, so that's fine. It's other parts of my body that now have to take the brunt of it. So, yeah, once he put the rods in there [the ankle], it's good to go.

"But, the back, the knee, other parts of the body have to take the load of it, and just the endurance capability of walking a long time and being on my feet for a long time."

Woods acknowledged that the more than 6-mile walk around Augusta National Golf Club is one of the more difficult ones in men's professional golf. With weather forecasts for Thursday to Sunday calling for temperatures in the low 70s to low 80s, it should be much better playing conditions for Woods than last year.

"I ache every day," Woods said. "And I prefer it warm and humid and hot, and I know we're going to get some thunderstorms. So at least it will be hot. It won't be like last year."

Woods will attempt to set a Masters record by making the cut for the 24th consecutive time after tying Couples and Gary Player last year.

"I think it's consistency, it's longevity, and it's an understanding of how to play this golf course," Woods said. "That's one of the reasons why you see players that are in their 50s and 60s make cuts here, or it's players in their late 40s have runs at winning the event, just the understanding of how to play it.

"Now, you still have to go out and execute it, but there's a lot of knowledge that goes into understanding how to play it. And, granted, every tee box has been changed since the first time I played. Every green has been changed, but the overall configuration of how they roll and how they move and the angles you take, that hasn't changed."

Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, said Woods looks stronger in Tuesday's practice round than he did a year ago, when the 82-time PGA Tour winner struggled to walk and swing a club in wet and cold conditions.

"I just watched him play nine holes, and nine holes is only nine holes on a Tuesday, but he never mishits a shot," Couples said. "But the idea of making a cut, I think he would laugh at that because that's a huge record, but he's here to win. He's here to play really, really hard."