The Masters: 'Any time Tiger Woods is involved, it's a wonderful thing' – McIlroy

By Sports Desk April 05, 2022

Rory McIlroy described Tiger Woods' return at The Masters as a "wonderful thing" after the 15-time major winner confirmed his planned participation at Augusta.

Woods is set to make a sensational bid for a sixth green jacket this week, playing competitively for the first time since failing to defend his 2019 Masters title in November 2020.

The 46-year-old suffered serious leg and foot injuries in a car crash in February 2021. He was unable to walk unaided for several months.

However, after practicing at Augusta this week, Woods said on Tuesday: "As of right now I feel like I'm going to play."

Asked if he thought he could win the Masters, Woods - who has been grouped with Joaquin Niemann and Louis Oosthuizen - replied: "I do."

McIlroy is looking to complete a career Grand Slam by finally ending his wait for a first Masters title, but he unsurprisingly faced questions on Woods' return.

"Tiger has been wonderful for us all in this room. He creates attention on the game of golf that no one else can," McIlroy replied when asked if he would be surprised if Woods was still in contention on Sunday. 

"That's great for his peers. It's great for the media. It's great for this golf club. It's great for everyone. So, any time Tiger Woods is involved, it's a wonderful thing.

"I think in terms of the competitive nature of it, if he's in the field or not, I don't think it really changes much. You're trying to focus on yourself, and he can't stop you shooting a 67 if you play well. It's not like any other sport. So, I don't think that changes much.

"But would I be -- I wouldn't be surprised. I've spent a little bit of time with him at home, and the golf is there. He's hitting it well. He's chipping well. He's sharp. It's just the physical demand of getting around 72 holes here this week. That's probably the question mark. But the golf game is there. So, would I be surprised? No, I'm not surprised at anything he does anymore."

On whether the hype around Woods makes it easier to fly under the radar, McIlroy replied: "I mean, I try to shield myself from as much news as possible, especially this week. So not really, depending on whether you're the centre of attention or not.

"I think it does make it nice with the practice rounds. We were on the ninth green when Tiger and J.T. [Justin Thomas] and Freddie [Fred Couples] teed off yesterday [Monday], and it was a mass exodus from the ninth green to the first tee, and then the back nine was lovely and quiet.

"That's a nice way to get through the first week and sort of go about your preparation, I guess, unhindered."

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