As Tiger Woods decides whether to play in next week’s Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, one of his competitors said it would be phenomenal to have the 15-time major champion in the field.
“I think for golf and for the Masters tournament and for everyone, to have Tiger there would be phenomenal,” Rory McIlroy told reporters in San Antonio, where he’s competing in this week’s 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.”
McIlroy, a four-time major champion, was at Augusta National on Tuesday, when Woods played 18 holes with his son, Charlie, and PGA Tour pro Justin Thomas, his close friend.
“He was there [on Tuesday], obviously, and he’s trying to see what he can do,” McIlroy said. “Obviously no one knows but him if he can make it around and if he believes he can compete.”
Woods hasn’t played in an official PGA Tour event in 500 days, since he last played in the final round of the 2020 Masters, which was held in November that year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He finished in a tie for 38th after shooting 4-over 76 in the final round.
Woods, a five-time Masters champion, is listed among the expected 91 participants for next week’s Masters, the first major championship of the season. But he has yet to officially say whether he’s playing. It is the 25th anniversary of his first Masters victory in 1997.
This wouldn’t be the first time Woods has attempted to return to Augusta National after a long layoff. After multiple knee and back surgeries, Woods won the 2019 Masters, his first major championship in 11 years.
If he’s able to play next week, it would be even more impressive. Woods suffered serious injuries to his right leg and right foot in a car wreck on Feb. 23, 2021. The SUV that he was driving crossed over two oncoming lanes, struck a curb and uprooted a tree on a downhill stretch in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside Los Angeles. He was wearing a seatbelt, and officers found him still sitting in the SUV.
Woods was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center by ambulance. He had open fractures in the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula in his right leg. He told reporters at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in late November that doctors nearly had to amputate his right leg.
“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,” McIlroy said. “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.”
In December, Woods played in the unofficial PNC Championship with Charlie. The 36-hole event was a scramble, and he was allowed to use a golf cart, but he did do some walking.
“The sheer will and perseverance, yeah, it is incredible,” McIlroy said. “If he comes back from this again, it’s just he likes to prove people wrong, he likes to prove himself wrong, I think. 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.”
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