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Tiger Woods’ potential return at The Masters the ‘greatest thing’ for golf, says Patrick Cantlay

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Tiger Woods is yet to decide whether he will play at The Masters this week; the tournament would be the 46-year-old’s first major since suffering career-threatening leg injuries in a car crash last February; watch The Masters at Augusta National live from Thursday on Sky Sports Golf

Tiger Woods returning from injury to play in The Masters this week would be “the greatest thing” for golf, according to Patrick Cantlay, while Webb Simpson insists the five-time champion can contend for another green jacket.

Woods practised at Augusta National on Monday as the golfing world awaits his “game-time decision” on whether or not to compete in a first major tournament since suffering career-threatening leg injuries in a car crash last February.

Along with fans, who packed the grounds on Monday to watch Woods practise, his fellow professionals appear genuinely enthused by the possibility of the 46-year-old teeing it up on Thursday.

Cantlay, who played under Woods’ captaincy at the 2019 Presidents Cup, attempted to explain why the 15-time major winner’s presence means so much to his peers.

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“I think seeing him being so far superior to almost any golfer since (Jack) Nicklaus,” the world No 5 said on Monday. “Naturally you become inspired by that type of performance and dedication to the mastery of anything.

“So for someone that’s dedicated most of their life to playing golf as well as I can, seeing someone who has come as close as anyone else to mastering the game, I think that’s admirable.

“I think he’s a good example of life’s not always perfect, and so it’s really exciting to see him on his highs. And so I hope that he is able to tee it up this week and play well, and obviously that’s the greatest thing for our sport. There’s definitely a different feel in tournaments that he tees it up in.”

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Simpson: Tiger can always contend

2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson says Woods’ “amazing will” means he can never be ruled out of contention for any tournament.

The last of Woods’ 15 major titles came at Augusta in 2019, with that victory seen as a major upset following several back surgeries and a series of personal problems away from the course.

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“As a player, we love it. I think we’re all Tiger fans,” Simpson said of Woods’ potential return. “I learned my lesson to never count him out a few years ago when he came – he’s come back so many times from injury. So he’s an inspiration to all of us.

“Even when I hurt my neck earlier this year, I thought about it stinks right now but I can come back, I can make a full recovery, but he had a lot worse injury. I love that he’s going to give it a go.

“Any time anybody asks me can Tiger contend, the answer is yes. Just an amazing will inside of him, whether he’s hurt or sick or struggling with his golf swing or whatever it is. So it’s really cool that he’s making this week the push to come back after that car wreck. I hope he tees it up Thursday.”

Horschel: Only an injury will stop Tiger playing
Billy Horschel says he doubts that Woods would have gone to all the effort he has to be at Augusta this week, if it was not his intention to compete.

However, the world No 13 is wary that any sort of injury setback to Woods during his final preparations could lead to a change of plan

“Do I think he’s gonna play? He hasn’t told me he’s not, and he hasn’t told me is,” Horschel said, following a conversation with Woods in the practice area.

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“But if I’m in his shoes, I don’t do everything I’ve done over the last months or whatever it may be, just to show up here and not play.

“I think he’s planning on playing, in his mind he’s planning on playing, he’s doing everything to prepare to play. The only thing that would stop him from doing that would be if he picks up a little injury, foot, ankle, leg whatever doesn’t feel right.

“So I’m guessing he’s going to play and I’m gonna be just as excited as everyone else who walks this ground if he does play.”

DeChambeau: Tiger could shock a lot of people

Bryson DeChambeau says Woods “could shock a lot of people” with his level of performance if he decides to play at The Masters.

“It seems likes he’s in a really great frame of mind and he wants to win,” said DeChambeau, who has overcome injury problems of his own to make it to Augusta this year.

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“Obviously, he’s determined to win. He wants to come back here and win. And he’s got a lot of players that have had a lot of time to kind of catch up, albeit Tiger is Tiger, and you can never count him out.

“He is one that may shock a lot of people if he does tee it up this week. Very, very excited to have him back. Creates a lot of hype and whatnot. And, shoot, from the driving range, we could hear the loud roar when he came out of the clubhouse up to that first tee, and that was pretty special to see or hear at least.

“Couldn’t be more happy for him in the place he’s at right now, coming back, and proud of him, too. Shoot, coming back off that injury, we’ve had some conversations, and man, I don’t know how he’s done it. It’s very impressive.”

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Homa: Tiger rehab reminds me of Kobe
Max Homa says Woods’ approach to rehabilitation from injury is reminiscent to that of basketball great Kobe Bryant.

NBA legend Bryant, known for his fierce competitiveness, participated in a documentary chronicling his recovery from an Achilles tear in 2013.

Asked about Woods’ presence at Augusta, Homa said: “I’d be surprised if it was anyone else that’s ever lived. So, no, I’m not surprised.”

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“I am amazed. It is a true testament to his work ethic because we all know what he does on the golf course, how hard he works, and the stories and the legend. But sitting there and doing all that physiotherapy is – that’s got to be just boring at the very least, let alone hard.