Late on Monday evening, it was confirmed by Augusta National that Phil Mickelson will not be playing in next month’s Masters Tournament.
However, in doing so, have the Green Jackets let slip that Tiger Woods might be about to make his long-awaited comeback at the first men’s major of 2022?
Mickelson, who recently announced that he is taking time away from the game amid a spiraling controversy surrounding him and the so-called Saudi Golf League, will miss The Masters for the first time since 1994.
As a former winner – three times a former winner, indeed – the left-hander has a lifetime exemption to play in the tournament but has decided against accepting it this year.
he news was confirmed by Augusta officials, who shared an updated list of past champions who won’t be taking up their spot when the 86th edition of the event gets under way in a fortnight’s time.
One name was conspicuous by its absence.
Five-time champion Woods hasn’t featured on tour since the COVID-delayed Masters in November 2020, a spell on the sidelines with a back injury preceding his horror car crash in February 2021.
His most recent appearances of any sort were alongside son Charlie in the PNC Championship in December 2020 and 2021.
It has been speculated that he might participate in the Par-3 Tournament on the eve of The Masters, perhaps with Charlie on his bag.
Playing in the tournament itself, though, had been considered a long shot, not least before of the severely undulating nature of the Augusta National course and the extent of the injuries he sustained in that car accident a year ago.
It’s also worth noting that Woods has until the Friday before the tournament gets started to notify Augusta National of his participation, so it may be that he simply hasn’t officially opted out yet.
Still, though. What a prospect that would be: Tiger Woods making his long-awaited return at one of the most anticipated tournaments of the year.
Bring it on.