Tiger Woods’ impressive 2024 Masters return was a unique Augusta spectacle.

May 17, 2024

Tiger Woods’ opening-round Masters tee time was still some 15 minutes away and there was the customary large gathering underneath the famous oak tree adjacent to the clubhouse.

Among the large cluster of humanity milling about under those large, low-hanging limbs that provide a huge canopy of shade on sunny Georgia days were Augusta National members wearing their green jackets — among them NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Peyton Manning, another of the club’s high-profile members, wasn’t far away. Nor was six-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara.

As the clock moved closer to Woods’ 11:04 a.m. tee time, without any prompting of choreography, the scattered group of people in various stages of conversation unconsciously began to form a long human tunnel from the clubhouse to the first tee.

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Tiger Woods tees off on the seventh hole.
At 10:56 a.m., conversations ceased and there was a hush of anticipation under that tree.

A minute later, entered Woods, following his caddie, Joe LaCava. He emerged wearing a bright pink golf shirt to applause and, when he got to the start of that impromptu human tunnel, he looked like an NFL player about to take the field for a big game.

Get live updates from Tiger Woods’ return to the 2022 Masters with the New York Post’s up-to-the-minute coverage.

Woods paused, his eyes closing for several seconds, took a deep breath and proceeded to power past the people, expressionless en route to the first tee.

And there he was: Less than 14 months removed from the car crash that nearly cost him his right leg, Woods was playing tournament golf again. Not just tournament golf, but the Masters, where he would walk one of the hilliest, undulating golf courses anywhere, in pursuit of a record-tying sixth green jacket.

When his day was done, at 4:25 in the afternoon after a five-hour, 21-minute round, Woods stood at 1-under par after shooting 71. He’s tied for 10th, four shots behind leader Sungjae Im, who shot a 5-under 67.

All things considered — with Woods still with his right leg that was so mangled doctors thought they may need to amputate and having not played in a tournament in 17 months (the November 2020 Masters) — it was hardly a poor day at all for him.

If you told Woods over breakfast Thursday morning that he would shoot a 71, he surely would have signed up for it.

“I had a terrible warm-up session,’’ Woods said. “I hit it awful. I went back to what my dad always said: ‘Did you accomplish your task in the warm-up? It’s a warm-up. Did you warm up?’ Yes, I did. ‘Now go play.’ That’s exactly what I did, I went and played. I was able to finish up in the red. I’m right where I need to be.’’

A large crowd looks on as Tiger Woods hits off the 18th tee during the first round of the Masters on Thursday.
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As for the super-charged atmosphere surrounding him, as oblivious as he might have appeared amid the buzz and the adulation, Woods was aware of it.

“I’m very lucky to have this opportunity to be able to play, and not only that, to play in the Masters and to have this type of reception,’’ Woods said. “I mean, the place was electric.’’

Woods’ day began with a nifty par save on the first hole and that would be a proper precursor to the day, which was all about battling. He hit his tee shot short of the bunker on the right side of the fairway and his approach shot landed short of the green, where he would get up-and-down.