AUGUSTA, GA — Tiger Woods knew he was in big trouble when he saw where his golf ball landed after hitting the tee shot on the final hole on Thursday.
What happens next will determine whether he has a chance to remain a contestant in this year’s Masters Tournament.
It was bad enough that Woods’ ball was inches off the edge of a deep bunker on the left of the fairway, calling for a very awkward stance on his next shot. In fact, in every moment of Woods’ daily life, nearly every uneven surface has become awkward since rebuilding his right leg with steel bars and metal screws after his car accident in 2021.
However, this example involved higher than usual stakes. In his one of the closing sequences of his opening round of the Masters, he places his left foot on the mound of grass outside the bunker as he digs his reconstructed right foot into the sand a few feet below his golf ball. I had to. The irregular posture had shoulders, arms and legs against the hips. From there, all he had to do was shift his weight from leg to leg during a fast swing, enough to propel the ball forward over 100 yards toward the uphill 18th green. It was just a matter of making firm contact.
there is nothing in it.
Then, as Woods admitted, had he been distracted by his unbalanced stance on the ball, he could have easily shanked the ball to the right into the adjacent hole. From there, he would almost certainly have double-bogeyed, or better. And up until that point, Woods hadn’t been able to survive such ugly numbers on his scorecard with 17 holes where he played better than 1 par. He would see his elimination from the Masters two rounds later. This never happened to him as a professional golfer.
But he’s Tiger Woods, so he had an escape plan, albeit dangerous. And because he was Tiger Woods, he didn’t let the pressure of the moment suffocate him or let the weakness of his right foot affect his results. Head up to the bunker on the right of the 18th green.
Then came the hard part.
Just as Woods appeared ready to roll backwards into the sand, he quickly pulled his good left leg back into the bunker while simultaneously removing all weight from his damaged right leg and hopping four times with his left leg. I deftly lifted it onto the sand.
A play-by-play analysis of the sequence by Woods went something like this: If I do it with something else it doesn’t work so well.
Near the green, Woods blasted off his normal lie in the bunker, requiring a two-putt to finish the hole, but in golf terms it was a good bogey. It wasn’t ruined after all. Woods then noted that rainy and windy weather was expected for Friday and Saturday, and with those nasty conditions he thought he could return to the tournament. Weather experience is key, and Woods is playing in his 25th Masters.
“If I can stay there, maybe I’ll come back for a bit. Hopefully it will turn positive towards the end,” he said.
It would be an extraordinary comeback against very long odds — especially when much of the field was scoring low on a sunny and pleasant Thursday — but Woods happily dreamed.
“I couldn’t get my iron close enough to the hole today,” he said, blaming those mistakes for a subpar putting round (32 putts). He drove the ball reasonably well, hitting 10 of 14 fairways.
As has been the case over the years, Woods’ physical ability remains the biggest variable and has the most impact on his score. I was dragging. He also had frequent grimaces, which is not surprising for his 47-year-old golfer, who has undergone multiple complex back surgeries and several operations on his lower leg.
Woods posted a 3-over par on 13 holes, climbing up and down the steep hills of Augusta National Golf Club. His shirt was soaked with sweat, and his expression became painful. But then, on the par-5 15th, Woods sank a 25-foot curling putt left-to-right for a birdie. In a scene of great heroism, his iron approach stopped ten feet from the hole.
At that moment, anything seemed possible, and the huge gallery that followed him throughout the round went tumultuous. rice field. Then his drive off the 18th tee, which was heading towards the middle of the fairway, unfortunately bounced to the left and settled next to a yawning bunker.
But by timely jumping on one foot and balancing in multiple ways, Woods survived and won another day in pursuit of his sixth Masters victory.