The Masters 2022: How is Tiger Woods doing after returning from a long injury break?
He is back!
Tiger Woods announced on Tuesday that, if everything continues on track, he will compete in the 2022 Masters.
And it will be his first appearance on the PGA Tour for 17 months when he finished tied 38th at the 2020 Masters held in November.
After fears he may never play competitive golf again following a car accident in February last year, the news has created incredible buzz around Augusta National.
So what are reasonable expectations to put on Tiger? Break 80? Break the par of 72? To make the cut? Or maybe to issue some sort of title challenge?
Here we look at how Tiger fared in his return to action after a long break due to injury.
2008-2009 – ACL surgery: absence of 254 days
Context: Tiger went under the knife after winning the 2008 US Open on one leg in June 2008. Following the event, he underwent reconstructive surgery, the third surgery on his left knee in five years. In February 2009, he released a brief statement on his own website, tigerwoods.com: “I am now ready to play again.”
Tiger Return Event: Woods decided his return would be at the Match Play Championship in Arizona in February 2019 and then a knockout event.
How did he behave? Woods picked up a 3&2 win over Aussie Brendan Jones on day one. He birdied on the first hole.
“I felt good,” he said, “I got off to a quick start, which definitely helped. I hit some good shots early. I hit a couple loose irons in the middle of the round, but I got them back. Thought I hit it’s good all day except for a few loose irons.”
As for the knee: “It felt good. It held up. I feel good now. I’m sure I’ll hurt a bit later, but ice it up and get high and I’ll be good to go tomorrow .”
Woods lost 4&2 to Tim Clark in the second round.
He said: “I hit really well today. I just didn’t birdie enough. Tim birdied a few there, and I didn’t get back to him in the middle of the round.”
2014 – Back surgery: absence of 109 days
Context: Tiger had only played four times in 2014 with results of MC-41-WD-25 when he decided repair work was needed for a pinched nerve after his top-25 finish at the Cadillac Championship in March. It meant he missed the Masters for the first time in 20 years.
Tiger Return Event: After microdiscectomy surgery, Woods returned to golf at Quicken Loans National in June 2014.
“After extensive therapy, I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week at Quicken Loans National,” Woods wrote. “I’ve only just started to hit hard, but it’s time to take the next step.
“I will be a little rusty, but I want to get back into my competitive form. Excited for the challenge ahead of me.”
How did he behave? There was clearly some rust and Tiger fired rounds 74 and 75 to miss the cut by four shots. In his two rounds he failed to reach 16 greens and the short game could not save him as he only went up and down three times.
He said: “I’m really encouraged by what’s happened this week. I missed the cut by four strokes – that’s a lot. But the fact that what I was able to do physically, the speed that I had and the distance I was to hit the golf ball again, I hadn’t done that in a very long time.
“I felt great today. Then I made so many little mistakes…all the little things that I know I can fix. But like I said, it’s very encouraging.”
2015-2016 – Back surgery: absence of 466 days
Context: After finishing tied for 10th in the Wyndham Championship in August, Tiger underwent two back procedures in late 2015 and the recovery time dragged on and on. He was out for over a year and there were doubts he would play again.
Tiger Return Event: Woods, now 40, announced his return would be at his own tournament in December 2016: the Hero World Challenge in Albany, Bahamas, an event limited to just 18 players.
“I’m going to try to do what I always do. I’ve entered this event and I’m going to try to win. I know it’s a tall order,” he said during the build-up. noted.
How did he behave? In this non-cut event, Woods was guaranteed four rounds and shot 73-65-70-76 to finish 15th of 18 starters. It was 14 behind winner Hideki Matsuyama but his 65 on day two provided a real thrill.
“I felt like I did some really positive things,” he later said. “I’m happy with it. I just need to clean it up.
“The good sign is that I played four days in a row, had no pain and was able to hit the golf ball as hard as I wanted.”
2017 – Back surgery: absence of 300 days
Context: Tiger retired after an opening 77 at the Dubai Desert Classic in February 2017. Now he has had his fourth back surgery since 2014, the latest procedure a fusion surgery which he says relieved a lot of pain in his body .
Tiger Return Event: Once again he chose a soft return, returning to action at his own event in December 2017. “I’m thrilled to be returning to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge,” Woods said in an announcement. “Albany is the perfect setting and it will be great to join this exceptional area.”
How did he behave? In his first start in 10 months and seven months after surgery, Woods finished tied for ninth in the 18-man field, shooting scores of 69-68-75-68.
“I’m excited,” Woods said. “That’s how I played at home and when I came here and played I played very similarly to that.
“I didn’t quite make it, but I had adrenaline and overall I’m very satisfied.”
During the week, Woods had 17 birdies, two eagles, 11 bogeys and a double bogey.
Tiger has shown flashes of good play in each of his comeback events.
They show a second-round outing in Match Play, a missed cut, 15th of 18 and tied for ninth of 18.
Woods, as you’d expect, is optimistic about his return to action at Augusta National this week.
“I don’t show up to an event unless I think I can win it. So that’s the attitude I had.
“Physically the challenge this week is that I don’t have to worry about the ball hitting or the game of golf, it’s actually just the hills here.”
Whatever happens, it’s just a thrill to see him again.
READ MORE: Who will win the 2022 Masters at Augusta National?