World stunned by ‘truly unbelievable’ Tiger Woods’ feat in Masters comeback.

April 19, 2024

Tiger Woods, making an incredible comeback 14 months after suffering severe leg injuries in a car crash, fired a one-under par 71 on for a solid start at the Masters.

The 15-time major champion, seeking his record-tying sixth green jacket, made three birdies and two bogeys at Augusta National to stand three strokes behind early clubhouse leader, Australian Cameron Smith.

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Woods sank a 29-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th and closed with a clutch 10-foot birdie putt at the par-4 18th.

Normally, shooting one-under wouldn’t be cause for a major love-in but given everything Woods has been through since that horrifying car accident, and the fact he hasn’t played a competitive tournament in that time, the world was in awe.

Sports journalist Jonathan Deutsch tweeted: “Tiger Woods. 1-under after 18 holes at #theMasters. Just truly unbelievable after what that dude has been through.”

Golf expert Ryan Ballengee wrote: “Tiger Woods’ round today was incredible.”

Pro golfer Rich Beem said: “That was one HELLUVA round by @TigerWoods. What an amazing competitor.

New York Post reporter Brian Wacker added: “Tiger Woods finishes under par with a 71 and just three off the lead. Unfathomable a few months ago never mind 13 months ago.”

Journalist Shahan Ahmed tweeted: “Tiger Woods finishes his first round back under par. Just incredible.”

Jay Williams wrote: “Great opening round from @TigerWoods … just remarkable.”

The 46-year-old superstar, who has slid to 973rd in the world rankings, walked slower and apart from his playing partners for much of the round and used a club as a walking stick on hills at times.

Woods was hospitalised for weeks and unable to walk for months after his accident in February 2021 and says he still plays through pai,n but he made an astonishing recovery to return at the Masters, where he won his first major title 25 years ago and made his most recent prior start 17 months ago.

Woods cut a vibrant figure in a hot pink shirt and black trousers — all the better for the thousands of Augusta patrons keen to get a glimpse of him to track their hero.

A 30-minute delay to the start because of pre-dawn thunderstorms only intensified the anticipation for Woods’ appearance on the first tee, where he was greeted with rapturous applause.

Woods wasn’t delighted with his opening drive, which came up short of the righthand fairway bunker. His approach trickled off the green but he drained a 10-foot par saving putt.

He opened with five straight pars, his approach at the fifth to 15 feet prompting a big smile for caddie Joe LaCava before Woods’s birdie putt lipped out.

But Woods followed with his first birdie of the day at the par-three sixth, where he landed his tee shot two feet from the pin.

He was in the trees liningthe right side of the fairway at the seventh before saving par, but he gave back a shot at the eighth despite finding the fairway at the par-five.

After a lengthy wait to hit into the green, Woods came up short. His third shot also failed to reach the green and he was unable to make get a par-saving nine-foot putt to fall.

Woods was left off the tee on the way to a par at the ninth, where 23-year-old playing partner Joaquin Niemann — who wasn’t born when Woods won his first Masters title in 1997 — holed out for eagle to seize the early lead on three-under par.

Scottie Scheffler, 25, arrived at Augusta ranked number one in the world after winning his first three US PGA Tour titles in the space of two months.

Spain’s US Open champion Jon Rahm, 27, can regain the number one ranking he ceded to Scheffler with a first Masters victory, one of five players who can supplant the American this week along with reigning British Open champion Collin Morikawa, FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, rising Norwegian star Viktor Hovland and Smith.

Northern Ireland’s four-time major winner, Rory McIlroy, will be trying for the eighth time to complete a career Grand Slam with a Masters victory, while defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan was even through eight holes.

But all the focus was on Woods, and whether he can pull off the most miraculous comeback yet in a career marked as much by his gritty determination to defy pain as by his sublime skill.

Woods won the 2008 US Open with a broken leg, then battled through five back surgeries, including a spinal fusion, before he won his 15th major title at the 2019 Masters.

Should he defy the odds and match Jack Nicklaus’s record of six green jackets Woods would become the third-oldest major winner in history and would surpass Nicklaus as the oldest Masters winner by a matter of weeks.