As Tiger Woods turns 47, a year unlike any other likely to become the norm
There have been many iterations of a Tiger Woods comeback, but this year was an aberration from the rest.
In February 2021, while recovering from a fifth back procedure, Woods was involved in a single-car accident, suffering comminuted open fractures to both the tibia and fibula in his right leg. It was uncertain if he’d ever play competitive golf again.
The 15-time major champion remained out of the public eye until December’s Hero World Challenge. There, Woods revealed he’d never play a full schedule again; however, when he was seen hitting balls on the range, the anticipation for a Woods return was in full force. Those flames were fueled later that month when Woods finished runner-up at the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie.
Woods’ first public appearance of 2022 came at the Genesis Invitational, nearly one year after the crash. Just days before the accident, Woods appeared sluggish at Riviera. A year later, however, there was a clear disparity. Woods appeared sharper, but expressed that he had a long way to go before playing again. However, he affirmed that if would become when.
“You’ll see me on the PGA Tour [in 2022],” he said Saturday on CBS at Riviera, “I just don’t know when.”
The waiting game began, and most people — including Woods — circled the Masters on their calendars — a few weeks after Woods was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Amid a week of speculation, the 82-time Tour winner touched down in Augusta on Sunday before the Masters. He played a practice round and tweeted, it’ll be a “game-time decision on whether I compete.”
In front of a mammoth gallery, a Monday practice round followed. The next day in his presser, Woods still didn’t fully commit to playing, but when asked if he felt he could win, Woods responded without hesitation, “I do.”
Thursday came, and the wait was over. Woods teed off at 11:04 a.m. ET and, in vintage Woods fashion, shot 1-under 71 in his first competitive round since the 2020 Masters in November. Like so many times before, he was the talk of the sports world.
But that would be the peak of his performance in 2022, and what followed was a grim reality.
He made the cut at Augusta National, but on Saturday, shot a Masters career-worst 78. Walking off to a grand ovation after 72 holes, he finished T-46. But, nonetheless, finishing was a win considering where Woods was 14 months prior — and while still reeling from the aftermath.
“You can just tell that his leg is just not quite up there yet,” Jon Rahm, Woods’ final-round playing competitor, said after Sunday’s round.