The Masters - Golf: Woods confirms Masters return
The 2022 US Masters is set to take place at Augusta National this week and five-time champion Tiger Woods has confirmed he will be teeing up.
Woods sparked speculation he could compete at the opening major of the year after participating in a practice round at the venue last week and the 15-time major winner has now revealed he will be part of the field.
The long road to Augusta
It has been 14 months since Woods suffered career-threatening leg injuries in a car accident and it has been a long road towards recovery.
The only competitive golf the 46-year-old has played since the accident was at the 36-hole PNC Championship in December where he partnered his 12-year-old son Charlie and rode around the course in a buggy.
However, hopes were raised that the former world number one could make his PGA Tour return at this month's Masters when he was recently named among the 91 participants, despite concerns the Augusta course could prove too hilly at this stage of his recovery.
Woods then added further fuel to that fire by completing a practice round at Augusta last Tuesday alongside his son and world number seven Justin Thomas, who is a close family friend.
It is believed Woods used that round to see if he would be fit enough to cope with the rigours of competing at the first major of 2022, and at his pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday, he finally confirmed the news golfing fans around the world had been hoping to hear.
"As of right now I feel like I am going to play," Woods said. "I’m going to play nine more holes tomorrow (Wednesday).
"My recovery has been good. I’ve been very excited about how I’ve recovered each and every day."
Woods also confirmed he believes he can win a sixth Green Jacket this week and he can be backed at 41.00 to end Sunday at the top of the leaderboard.
Woods has great affinity with the Masters
Competing at the Masters is certainly a fitting way for Woods to mark his competitive return to the PGA Tour, as it is not the first time Augusta has been the scene of one of his sensational comebacks.
Just three years ago, Woods claimed his fifth victory in Georgia and his 15th major title overall, with the success coming 11 years on from his previous triumph at one of the big four events - the 2008 US Open.
That was regarded as one of the greatest comebacks not just in golf, but in sport as a whole, but if Woods does tee up at Augusta this week and puts in a competitive showing, then that would arguably surpass his achievements of 2019.
This week's tournament will also mark the 25th anniversary since Woods' maiden major success at the Masters in 1997, while he went on to add further triumphs at the event in 2001, 2002, 2005 and of course three years ago.
Alongside those victories, Woods has claimed a further nine top-10 finishes at Augusta, while he has only missed the cut once in his career, that coming on his second appearance at the event in 1996.
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Can Tiger complete a sensational comeback?
Even just by teeing up at the Masters, Woods will have completed a sensational comeback, but whenever the 82-time PGA Tour winner is in the field, hopes and expectations are raised that he can compete for overall glory.
Those hopes will be lifted even further given Woods' affinity to the Masters, but it would be unfair to ask too much of a player that is ranked 944th in the world and has spent so much time away from the golf course.
The strength in depth currently within the world of golf also makes it hard to believe Woods can mount a sustained challenge at the top of the leaderboard.
Newly crowned world number one Scottie Scheffler, 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson and last year's winner Hideki Matsuyama will be among the big names competing for that cherished Green Jacket.
Rory McIlroy, at odds of 19.00, is another one hoping to end his now eight-year wait for a fifth major title, while winning the Masters would also see the Northern Irishman become just the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam - an exclusive club that Woods is a member of.
Only time will tell if Woods can thrive at this year's Masters, but all eyes are sure to be on the golfing icon when he tees up for his first round on Thursday.
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