Tiger Woods impresses in comeback at The Masters; Will he contend at The Open this summer?
Woods played his first 72-hole event since November 2020; Former world No 1 confirmed to Sky Sports he plans to play The Open in July, but what else did we learn from his performance at Augusta National?
By Ali Stafford at Augusta National
Last Updated: 12/04/22 6:02am
Tiger Woods delighted the golfing world with his impressive comeback at The Masters, a performance that will remain one of the more memorable in the 15-time major champion's long and successful career.
Woods dominated the narrative at Augusta National, more than 500 days on from his last competitive start in the 2020 contest and less than 14 months on from the career-threatening car crash that nearly cost him his right leg.
The 46-year-old battled through the pain barrier to make it through to the weekend and register a 47th-place finish, with Woods proud of how he handled himself in his highly-anticipated return to action.
"It's one thing to play with my son at a hit-and-giggle, but it's another thing to play in a major championship," Woods said after his final round. "It's been a tough road, and one that I'm very thankful to have the opportunity to be able to grind through it. A lot of different things could have happened, but 14 months, I'm able to tee it up and play in The Masters."
When asked whether his comeback ranked as one of his biggest career achievements, Woods added: "For not winning an event, without a doubt. To go from where I was to get to this point, I've had an incredible team that has helped me get to this point and incredible support."
How Woods performed at Augusta
Woods rolled back the years with a one-under 71 on the opening day, keeping him within four strokes of early leader Sungjae Im, before battling back from bogeying four of his first five holes on Friday to salvage a second-round 74 and make his 22nd consecutive cut at The Masters.
"To come out of the gates and straightaway be competitive against the world's best who have been playing every week [is great]," Sir Nick Faldo told Sky Sports. "He is the rarest of the rarest.
"People do not appreciate what he has had to do physically to get back to this. It is darn impressive. He did not leave a bed for three months due to healing and then wanted to play golf for fun."
Woods then carded back-to-back rounds of 78 over the weekend, the two highest scores of his lengthy Augusta National career, although still received a standing ovation from the patrons as he closed out his final hole and headed for the clubhouse.
"It wasn't vintage Tiger but the base level is perhaps higher than we thought," former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley told Golf Channel. "In terms of competitive golf, he was somewhat sloppy - a sharper Tiger in his prime would have been tighter in scoring.
"Having said that, it's a great place to move forward from into the summer, to get more competitive golf under his belt and to throw his weight around with these young kids on the block. It's great to have Tiger Woods back as part of the narrative."
Where could Tiger play next?
Woods has traditionally sat out of the events immediately after The Masters, although is a past winner of the first two PGA Tour events in May - the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson.
The next potential return to action would be the PGA Championship from May 19-22 at Southern Hills Country Club, the venue where he successfully defended the Wanamaker Trophy in 2007 to claim the most recent of his four victories in the event.
When asked whether he would feature next month, Woods told Sky Sports: "I won't be playing a full schedule ever again, so it will just be the big events. I don't know if I will play Southern Hills or not."
The former world No 1 could seek permission from the PGA of America to use a golf cart at the event, just as John Daly did during the 2019 contest at Bethpage Black and Woods did at December's PNC Championship, although he has previously stated he would be unwilling to compete using a cart in a full-field tournament.
Woods has regularly appeared at the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memoria Tournament, an event he has won five times, while June could see him try to add his major tally at The US Open in Brookline.
Could Tiger contend at The Open?
One tournament where Woods will feature is The 150th Open at the historic St Andrews in mid-July, exclusively live on Sky Sports, where he completed the career Grand Slam with his record-breaking win in 2000 and also won the Claret Jug in 2005.
Woods confirmed he will feature at the final men's major of the year, telling Sky Sports: "I'm looking forward to [The Open Championship] at St Andrews.
"That is something that's near and dear to my heart, I've won two Opens there, it's the Home of Golf and it's my favourite golf course in the world. I will be there for that one."
The Scottish course is shorter and offers flatter terrain than what Woods has had to tackle at Augusta National, with Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee expecting the three-time Champion Golfer of the Year to be a threat at St Andrews.
"Tiger's ball speed on the range [on Friday] was 179mph - he went from below-average ball speed to elite ball speed, Chamblee told Golf Channel. "Eighty-three victories is in play for him now, another major championship is in play.
"I didn't think before this week started that I would give him a big chance at The Open Championship at St Andrews as under normal crisp conditions that place is about speed. It's why he won there in 2000 and 2005. At 179mph ball speed, St Andrews is now in play."
A benefit of Woods' legendary status is that it enables him to play whenever he feels his game and body are up to it, with the 82-time PGA Tour winner able to pick his schedule however he likes it. Whether we don't see Woods tee it up again until July, or we get to see him in action sooner, the sporting world will watch on with interest once more.
When will Woods next tee it up? Watch all four majors and the PGA Tour exclusively live this year on Sky Sports Golf.