Speculation is growing that the five-time winner of the year’s first Major might launch his comeback at the tournament
Tiger Woods returned to the public eye last week as host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Club in Los Angeles. The event marked one year since the 15-time Major winner was involved in a horrific car accident, leaving him needing surgery on his right leg and foot, followed by an extensive period of rehab. Woods has barely played since, so, naturally, his appearance at the event soon led to questions about when he will return to competitive action. Woods was non-committal about a return date, although he did confirm he’ll return to the PGA Tour at some point.
However, he also didn’t rule out the possibility of playing April’s Masters Par 3 Contest at Augusta National, held on the eve of the main event. When asked if he was considering taking part, Woods responded: “I can do that now. Whether I do or not, I don’t know”. For a press conference that didn’t offer much in the way of revelations, that statement provided a glimmer of hope that Woods’ comeback might not be too far away. After all, he played the PNC Championship alongside son Charlie last December, albeit with the assistance of a golf cart. Not only that, but the pair almost won the event, finishing runner-up to Jon Daly and his son, Jon Daly II.
Of course, there are huge differences between playing tournaments like the two-day PNC Championship or the Masters Par 3 Contest and teeing off at a Major. However, last Saturday, Woods confirmed to Jim Nantz and Sir Nick Faldo that he’d be at Augusta for the annual Champions Dinner. “It’ll be a great dinner. I don’t know what kind of sushi we’re going to have,” said Woods. When asked again about his chances of playing the Par 3 Contest, Woods didn’t rule it out, saying: “I can play that kind of stuff.” However, when Nantz responded with the question: “So, we’ll see you there?” Woods was quick to dampen the speculation, saying: “Hey, Jimmy, slow down, turbo. Slow down.”
Nevertheless, there are encouraging signs that Woods’ injury frustrations may soon be behind him. On Sunday, footage emerged of him walking relatively freely up the 52 steps to the clubhouse at Riviera, leading to speculation that he could be closer to a comeback than he’s letting on.
Close enough for The Masters? That probably still gets filed under “highly doubtful” at this stage. However, with his attendance at Augusta National confirmed and a playing appearance of some kind that week not being ruled out, we’ll have our fingers crossed that the 2019 Masters winner might yet surprise everyone with one of the most eagerly anticipated comebacks of all.