Brutal 23-hole Masters test to answer big Tiger question after promising signs

April 21, 2024

Tiger Woods will have the chance to make Masters history on Friday (Saturday AEST) at Augusta National, if his surgically repaired legs and back can stand the strain of walking 23 holes.

The 15-time major champion stood on one-under par through 13 holes when Thursday’s opening round of the 88th Masters was halted by darkness, the start having been delayed more than two hours by morning rain showers.

Tiger Woods of the United States looks on from the 11th fairway with his caddie, Lance Bennett, during the first round of the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Woods, who shares 17th, is trying to make the cut in his 24th consecutive Masters to break the record streak he shares with Gary Player and Fred Couples.

But to do it, Woods, who suffered severe leg injuries in a 2021 car crash and underwent right ankle fusion surgery last April, must finish five holes from round one, then cope with walking 18 more in the second round.

“It’s certainly one of the more hillier walks we have on tour,” Woods said of the famed 7,775-yard Augusta layout. “We’re just meandering back and forth across that hillside. So, yeah, it is a long walk.” Woods sank an eight-foot birdie putt at the first hole, made bogey at the par-3 fourth after missing the green, but made a four-foot birdie putt at the par-5 eighth and parred the next five holes before sunset.

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He’ll return just after dawn to chase history and give his walking issues their biggest test of his comeback.

“We’re going to warm up and just kind of head down there and start our round,” he said.

“I think the flow would be pretty much almost like between 20 and 30 minutes in-between rounds, so it’ll be a natural flow from the finish of the first round and continuation of the second.” As for the toll on his body through day one, Woods was matter of fact. “The body is OK,” he said. “We’ve got some work to do yet tonight.” Woods was troubled by brisk and swirling winds, calling Thursday “one of the most tricky days I’ve ever been a part of.”

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“The wind was all over the place,” he said. “It was hard to get a beat not only on what direction it was going, but the intensity and it kept switching all over the place.” On Tuesday, Woods joked that “every shot that’s not on a tee box is a challenge” but also admitted he won’t be certain how he feels until the challenge is upon him.

“Things just flare up,” he said. “Some days I just feel really good, and other days, not so much.”js/