clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tiger Woods at The Masters: Updates from Round 4 at Augusta

Tiger Woods’ return to pro golf, and what got us here.

The Masters - Round Two Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Tiger Woods made his triumphant return to Augusta this weekend to begin competition in The Masters 2022. After weeks of speculation and game-time decisions, Woods made the decision to take to the course and see if he could make an impact.

The final round was never going to give us a miraculous Woods comeback, or a run worthy of legend — Tiger simply wasn’t playing well enough. The final round completed a collapse that was days in the making.

Early promise on Thursday gave way to decline, and on Sunday Woods shot a +6, 78 to finish 47th in the field, barber above those who missed the cut.

There’s no nice way to say it: Woods was bad in Saturday, really bad. He shot a career-worst 78 in the third round, clearly a product that the tournament was getting to be too much for him.

Limping between shots at Augusta, Woods’ putting was off for much of the day — and the afternoon sealed that there would be no miraculous come-from-behind win. It was an achievement in itself just to get out there and play, but the result on Saturday underscored that while Tiger’s spirit is willing, he’s not quite prepared to be back in competition.

Woods shot -1 in the first round for a 71. He was +2 in Friday’s second round for a 74. Woods made the cut and will begin the weekend at +2 in 19th place overall. He trails leader Scottie Scheffler by nine shots with 36 holes to go.

Woods bogeyed four of his first five holes to start the second round amid windy conditions. He has now made the cut all 22 times he’s competed in The Masters.

Here’s a full look at the leaderboard after round two.

It began early on Thursday, with Tiger teeing off for the first time in a professional event since his February 2021 car accident.

It wasn’t his best shot, and Woods was clearly disappointed in himself — but it’s understandable considering his competitive spirit. Woods went on to make par, and while he’s playing decently, it’s also clear that he’s in some pain as he walks, as well as some discomfort driving the ball.

Tiger is even through 10, and he’s getting a little frustrated.

But then he returned with a birdie on 13, and yes, it’s incredibly early — but Tiger is in the hunt folks. Simply amazing.

He’s also hitting some ludicrous shots like a man possessed.

Overall it was a very solid round for Woods, and amazing considering the circumstances. He wasn’t always perfect, but anyone hoping for “vintage Tiger” on Thursday were always going to be let down. This is an athlete pushing through incredible adversity to even be at this point, and it’s clear that every hole is a struggle on his surgically repaired leg — and still finished high.

There were moments of brilliance. Even though he bogeyed on 8 and 14, there was no sign of quit as he clawed back with a big birdie on 16 to finish the day -1.

Here is Tiger’s official scorecard from the first round.

via Masters.com

Let’s discuss what got us to this moment.

Leading up to Augusta ...

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Tiger Woods compete in a professional tournament, but the golfing icon might be ready to get back on the course. One of the major stories leading up to The Masters this week is whether or not Tiger will play in his first event since his horrific February 2021 car accident. While realistically nobody thinks Woods can win, everyone wants to see him back on the course.

On Tuesday this drew closer to a reality. In a press conference at The Masters Woods announced that “as of right now” he is planning to play in the tournament, however he wants to practice some more and try to get a full nine holes in before making a final decision.

Woods went on to add that he truly believes he can win The Masters, saying that he doesn’t have any concerns about his ability to play golf, or hit the ball — but that walking will be the big test to determine whether he feels he can go.

Tiger’s potential return is something everyone wants to see. The former No. 1 is still the draw of the golf world, even if he hasn’t held the top spot since 2014. This has led to a fevered pitch at Augusta as people hang off every warm up, each appearance, even his footwear to try and glean information on whether Woods will compete this week or not.

What happened in his car accident?

Early in the morning of February 23, 2021 reports emerged that Woods had been involved in a serious car accident. A single-vehicle crash, Woods was involved in a rollover in which his SUV ran off the road at a reported 80 miles per hour, close to Ranchos Palos Verdes, California.

After leaving the road, Woods’ vehicle rolled down a steep incline, coming to rest at the bottom of a ditch, resting on its side. Emergency personnel had to remove Woods from the vehicle using the jaws of life, and while his injuries were not life-threatening, he was transported to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center with serious injuries.

The breadth of Woods’ numerous injuries were incredibly severe for a pro athlete. He suffered open fractures (commonly referred to as “compound fractures”) to the tibia and fibula in his right leg and ankle, as well as structural and soft tissue damage to his right ankle.

Speaking to the media in November of 2021, Woods detailed how serious his injuries were. He said the damage to his leg was so extensive that “amputation was on the table,” though doctors were able to save his limb through surgical intervention.

When did Tiger last compete?

We last saw Tiger on the course at the father/son PNC Championship in December, when Tiger and Charlie Woods finished second to John Daly and John Daly II — though that was largely a relaxed, pro-am atmosphere.

It’s been almost 18 months since Woods last competed in a professional event, coincidentally enough at The Masters 2020. Covid delayed the event, pushing the Augusta tradition from March to November of 2020, and saw Woods finish 38th.

Still, The Masters have always been special for Tiger. In 2019 he stunned the world by winning winning the event from long odds. He earned his fifth green jacket, breaking a tie with Jack Nicklaus and putting him just one away from tying Arnold Palmer for 1st.

Is it realistic to think he will return?

The possibility for Woods’ return has been something on the cards for this year, but when initially asked Woods has downplayed coming back for The Masters 2022.

As recently as Sunday he threw water on rumors he was getting ready to come back this week by saying he was a “game time decision,” but more notably pointed out just how much rehabilitation he’s been working on, not to play golf, but simply live his life.

“I’m still working on the walking part. My foot was a little messed up there about a year ago, so the walking part is something that I’m still working on, working on strength and development in that. It takes time. What’s frustrating is it’s not at my timetable. I want to be at a certain place, but I’m not. I’ve just got to continue working. I’m getting better, yes. But as I said, not at the speed and rate that I would like. You add in the age factor too. You just don’t quite heal as fast, which is frustrating.”

Woods went on to add that any kind of golf practice has been exceedingly limited. He told reporters that he has been putting and chipping the ball, pointing out that it’s going well, but that he’s had next to no practice driving the ball or working on his long game.

Still, rumors swirled — especially when The Masters released a list of former champions who wouldn’t be playing in 2022, with Woods’ name notably off the list. It would seem the door was open for Tiger to make a triumphant return, despite all signs pointing to him still being a long, long way from returning to competition. Now he’s showing that he’s ahead of schedule, and believes he can go.

Woods is in Augusta, and working to compete

It’s important to not conflate Woods being in Augusta with a guarantee that he’s playing. There’s ample reason for Woods to be involved in The Masters in some capacity other than playing. The Champion’s Dinner has long been an occasion for winners of the past to appear at Augusta, serving as the de facto social gathering of the year for professional golfers.

This also marks his first major return to the spotlight in the world of professional golf, which means Woods could be using his appearance at the event to get the media attention out of the way now, so when he is ready to get back on the course he won’t be met with the same level of scrutiny.

What’s this I heard about his shoes?

Everyone is clamoring for some sign that Woods could come back, because that’s how much people want to see Tiger play again. This also occurred Sunday when people noticed he was practicing in FootJoy brand shoes, rather than his signature Nikes.

Marketing themselves as a “more comfortable golfing shoe,” Woods wearing FootJoys has prompted speculation that he’s more serious about trying to play than he’s letting on. Changing shoes would be significant in light of his long-term sponsor, though many have taken the switch to FootJoy to mean that he’s looking for some foot relief and comfort that would allow him to walk comfortably on his surgically repaired leg during The Masters.

These rumors seem to have at least some teeth, with Nike issuing a statement that was supportive of their athlete, but acknowledged their products might not be suited for him right now.

“Like golf fans around the world, we are delighted to see Tiger back on the course,” Nike said in a statement. “He is an incredible athlete, and it is phenomenal to see him returning to the game at this level. His story continues to transcend sport and inspire us all. As he continues his return, we will work with him to meet his new needs.”

So look, will Tiger play?

Only Tiger Woods can answer that. Honestly, the sense is that he really, really wants to return, but he’s just quite there yet. The question then pivots to whether Tiger would take to Augusta knowing his game is limited and he might not be able to finish a round, or would he rather wait until he can return at his best?

History tells us Woods would sooner skip an event than deliver a sub-par performance, but this is very different to his past injuries. The world would completely understand if he can’t play, or is forced to retire early — and nobody has any illusions that Tiger could shock the field in 2022 and win The Masters.

Whatever happens next, Tiger will be the talk of Augusta until the tournament begins on Thursday. If he’s able to go, the reception he gets at that first tee could be the most emotional we’ve ever seen.