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Masters 2024: A year after ankle surgery, Tiger Woods still faces 'challenges' playing and walking Augusta National

April 09, 2024
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Tiger Woods hits a shot during his practie round Tuesday at Augusta National.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Time flies by and the surgeries on Tiger Woods’ body meld into a blur, so being on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club this week is a reminder of where he was a year ago in recovering from his 2021 car crash.

Going into the Masters, Woods was hobbling around on a right ankle that ached constantly. There was no hiding it as he dragged his right leg around one of the hilliest golf courses the pros play. The unseasonably cold temperatures only made it worse, and though Woods impressively made the cut, he had to withdraw before the third round, ending his streak of playing 72 holes in every appearance here as a pro.

The following Wednesday, Woods’ team announced that he’d undergone ankle fusion surgery.

One year later, the pain in the ankle is gone. A very good thing in Woods’ life. But it doesn’t make him pain-free. As anybody with physical ailments knows, solving one issue can send reverberations through the rest of the body—especially for a golfer who has to adapt his swing.

“It's other parts of my body that now have to take the brunt of it,” Woods, a five-time Masters winner, said on Tuesday at Augusta, citing specifically his knee and back.

“The training that we have to do at home, it changes from day-to-day basis. Some days I just feel really good, and other days, not so much.

“I ache every day,” Woods said later. “And I prefer it warm and humid and hot. And I know we're going to get some thunderstorms [this week]. So at least it will be hot. It won't be like last year.”

Woods maintains that if everything goes well, he can contend for a sixth green jacket. Yet if you were to poll his peers and fans, they’re likely more concerned about him being able to walk 72 holes, rather than seriously compete over them. After all, Woods has walked 72 holes in a tournament twice in two years—in the 2023 Genesis Invitational and at last fall’s Hero World Challenge. He made the cut in the ’22 Masters, then hobbled to a pair of 88s. Later that season, Woods withdrew from that year’s PGA Championship after three rounds and missed the cut in the Open Championship.

Asked on Tuesday if there is a particular lie or stance that bothers him at Augusta, Woods smiled and said, “Every shot that's not on a tee box is a challenge. So, yeah, once we start the hole, it's a bit of a challenge.”

Woods, 48, has made only one PGA Tour start this season, at the Genesis Invitational he hosts at Riviera. But after opening with a respectable 72, Woods had to withdraw midway through the second round because of the flu. He started off the year with a plan to play once a month, but that hasn’t happened, with Woods skipping the Players Championship last month.

“I wasn't ready to play. My body wasn't ready. My game wasn't ready,” Woods explained. "And I thought that when I was at Hero, once a month would be a really nice rhythm. Hasn't worked out that way. But now we have major championships every month from here through July. So now the once a month hopefully kicks in.”

Playing 72 holes at Augusta would be a win all its own.

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