Tiger Woods has no doubt he can win The Masters for a sixth time as the legendary American prepares to make another sensational comeback.

Woods was unable to walk unaided for several months and has not played competitive golf since he sustained serious leg and foot injuries in a car crash in February 2021.

The 46-year-old was unsure if he would ever return to the top level but, extraordinarily, he is all set to make a remarkable comeback at Augusta National this week.

Woods, who won his first Masters title in Georgia 25 years ago, confirmed in a news conference on Tuesday that he feels ready to make a first appearance in a tournament since he played in the 2020 Masters.

While he will reassess after another nine holes of practice on Wednesday, Woods has firm belief that he can go on to win the title once again, having taken the green jacket in 2019 after recovering from serious back problems.

"I do," he replied when asked if he believed he could win at Augusta again.

He expanded: "I can hit it just fine. I don't have any qualms about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint. It's now walking is the hard part.

"This is normally not an easy walk to begin with. Now given the conditions that my leg is in, it gets even more difficult.

"You know, 72 holes is a long road, and it's going to be a tough challenge and a challenge that I'm up for."

 

Explaining the process of being in a position to make his comeback, Woods said: "I've worked hard. My team has been unbelievable. I've been lucky to have great surgeons and great PTs and physios that have worked on me virtually every day.

"We've worked hard to get to this point, to get to this opportunity to walk the grounds, test it out, and see if I can do this.

"It's been a tough, tough year and a lot of stuff that I had to deal with that I don't wish on anyone, but here we are, Masters week. Being able to play and practice -- for me, more importantly, just to say thank you to all the guys that have texted me, FaceTimed me, and called me and given me all their support, to see them in person and to say thank you has meant a lot.

"It's just a matter of what my body's able to do the next day and the recovery. That's the hard part. Yes, we push it and try and recover the best we possibly can that night and see how it is the next morning.

"Then all the activations and going through that whole process again, and you warm it up, and then you warm it back down, or test it out, and then you've got to cool it back down. Then you've got to do that day in and day out."

Asked about his motivation to return, Woods – who has never missed the cut in 21 appearances at Augusta – replied: "I love competing, and I feel like if I can still compete at the highest level, I'm going to, and if I feel like I can still win, I'm going to play. But if I feel like I can't, then you won't see me out here.

"I think that the fact that I was able to get myself here to this point is a success, and now that I am playing, now that everything is focused on how do I get myself into the position where I'm on that back nine on Sunday with a chance? Just like I did a few years ago.

"I never left that hospital bed even to see my living room for three months. So that was a tough road. To finally get out of that where I wasn't in a wheelchair or crutches and walking and still had more surgeries ahead of me, to say that I was going to be here playing and talking to you guys again, it would have been very unlikely."

Tiger Woods on Tuesday confirmed he is planning to make a sensational Masters comeback this week.

The 46-year-old acknowledged he cheated death in a car crash that left him with serious leg and foot injuries in February 2021.

Woods was unable to walk unaided for several months and has not played competitive golf since, but says he plans to tee off at Augusta on Thursday as it stands.

The legendary American said in a news conference: "As of right now I feel like I'm going to play."

Woods has played practice rounds over the last week at Augusta to test his body on the hilly course, and he feels ready to take part.

"I'm going to play nine more holes tomorrow. My recovery has been good, I'm very excited about how I've recovered each and every day," he added.

This year marks 25 years since Woods first triumphed at the Georgia course, when he famously won by a record 12 shots to back up the hype that was already surrounding him.

Woods has had four more Masters victories since then, most recently in 2019 when he produced a stirring success, having gone 11 years without landing a major.

He sits second on the list of all-time Masters winners, one shy of Jack Nicklaus' six titles, and is eligible to play due to past champions receiving a lifetime exemption.

Woods has not played on the PGA Tour since November 2020, and at the time of his car accident he was recovering from back surgery. He is the world number 973, having been inactive for almost 18 months, and no longer a young man.

Back problems have plagued Woods in the latter half of his career, meaning that expectations he would fly past Nicklaus' record of 18 majors have proven presumptuous.

Whether he can be anywhere close to competitive seems doubtful, but comebacks have to start somewhere, and Woods has decided there is no place better than Augusta.

Tiger Woods on Tuesday confirmed he is planning to make a sensational Masters comeback this week.

The 46-year-old acknowledged he cheated death in a car crash that left him with serious leg and foot injuries in February 2021.

Woods was unable to walk unaided for several months and has not played competitive golf since, but says he plans to tee off at Augusta on Thursday as it stands.

The legendary American said in a news conference: "As of right now I feel like I'm going to play."

After two years of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, things are back to normal at Augusta National for this year's much-anticipated Masters – though choosing a winner is as tough as ever.

Dustin Johnson won the delayed 2020 event with a record score after it was pushed back by seven months from its usual slot, while Hideki Matsuyama made history of his own last year by becoming the first Japanese male to win a major.

Matsuyama's triumph was a memorable one, albeit with only a limited number of patrons present in Georgia due to social distancing measures being in place, though the build-up to his title defence has been far from ideal as he continues to battle a back injury.

Golf's elite can look forward to the return of spectators for the 86th edition of the most prestigious tournament of them all – and if excitement was not already at fever pitch, Augusta could also see the return of Tiger Woods, who has not played on the PGA Tour since November 2020 after being involved in a car accident.

But exactly who is best placed to claim the green jacket in the first major of the year? The expert team at Stats Perform have a go at answering that question ahead of the tee off on Thursday.

RAHM TO ADD TO US OPEN SUCCESS – Daniel Lewis

Despite being usurped by Scottie Scheffler at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking after an admittedly slow start to the year, Jon Rahm remains the man to beat heading into the Masters. The 27-year-old has posted top-four finishes in each major, while also finishing inside the top 10 in each of his last five participations. Following his success at the US Open at Torrey Pines 10 months ago, this is Rahm's time to shine at Augusta. 

SMITH TO GO ONE BETTER THAN 2020 – Patric Ridge

Less than a month on from his triumph at the Players' Championship, world number six Cameron Smith seems well placed to go on and seal a maiden major triumph. The Australian finished T2 at Augusta in 2020, albeit five strokes back from Johnson. But he comes into this tournament ranked higher than ever before in his career, and the 28-year-old has won two of the five events he has featured in this year. A T10 placing in last year's Masters will have been a disappointment, but Smith has the tools, and the form, to challenge this time around.

GOOD WILL HUNTING FOR GREEN JACKET – Peter Hanson

A year ago, you could be forgiven for not knowing a lot about Will Zalatoris. But the then 24-year-old finished just one stroke shy of eventual winner Matsuyama, and his clean ball striking will be a big advantage on a typically unforgiving Augusta course. Voted PGA Tour Rookie of the Year for 2021, Zalatoris has three top-10 finishes in 2022, including losing a play-off to Luke List at the Farmers Insurance Open. And how about this if you want more persuading: eight of the past 10 Masters champions were at 1.7 or better strokes gained tee to green in the three months leading into the Masters. Zalatoris is one of eight players who meet that criteria heading into the 2022 instalment.

DON'T BE A-DOUBTING THOMAS, BACK JUSTIN – John Skilbeck

Until his challenged fizzled out over the weekend last year, when he went from only three shots back to finish tied for 21st place, Justin Thomas was following a trajectory that seemed sure to lead to Masters glory. His record showed year-on-year progress, going from a tie for 39th in 2016, to a tie for 22nd a year later, then tied 17th in 2017, tied 12th in 2019, and fourth outright in 2020. Amid this, he won the 2017 US PGA Championship, and Thomas is too good a player to sit too long on just one major. He has the second-lowest scoring average this season on the PGA Tour, has three top-10 finishes in the past two months, and Augusta practice rounds with his great friend Tiger Woods can hardly have hindered his cause.

TIGER... JUST IMAGINE! – Russell Greaves

Lazarus was a one-trick pony, but if Woods were to win the Masters again it would constitute the second bona fide sporting miracle of his remarkable career. Woods' triumph in 2019 – his fifth at Augusta National – was his 15th major success, coming 11 years after his previous one. He became only the third golfer over 40 to win a major on US soil, joining Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. Now 46 and absent from competitive action since 2020 following his car accident, a win here would surpass anything Woods has ever achieved. He needs one more to equal Jack Nicklaus' six Masters titles, but would be putting a proud record on the line if he does choose to compete, as Woods has made the cut in each of his 21 appearances at this event.

World number one Scottie Scheffler has welcomed the possible participation of Tiger Woods at the Masters ahead of the start of the Augusta tournament.

Fifteen-time major winner Woods, who has triumphed five times at the tournament, has not played on the PGA Tour since failing to defend his 2019 Masters title in November 2020.

After undergoing back surgery the following month, the 46-year-old then sustained major injuries in a car accident in February last year.

However, some 25 years on from his first triumph at Augusta, the American was listed among the expected 91 participants for the Masters, which begins on Thursday.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Scheffler said when asked if the spectre of Woods had deflected attention: "I would say having Tiger anywhere deflects a lot of attention from any of us. It's definitely easier to fly under the radar and we're all excited, hopefully he can come out and play this week, it should be a fun week if he does."

Woods famously won the 2019 Masters after returning from multiple back surgeries.

Scheffler recently shot up the rankings from fifth to first after a series of tournament wins, including last month's WGC Match Play, but insists he will not take his new position for granted.

"I haven't had too much time to reflect, just been trying to get some rest at home," he said. "I've been working hard for my whole life to play out here on the PGA Tour and I've had some success recently. I'm very happy to have had that but I'm not going to take it for granted.

"I only checked it once [the ranking] and it was there! Number one was never something I looked for, you set milestones and really just getting into the top 50 so you can play in the majors, that's where you try to get to. After that you're really just playing tournaments. I've been fortunate to win a few recently."

The 25-year-old also revealed he is keeping his feet firmly grounded, assisted by an incident in which he was mistaken for world number 10, Xander Schauffele.

"I've been humbled a couple of times already, showing up here," he added. "The guy who picked me up in the cart this morning called me Xander, so that brought me down to earth real quick.

"It's been great, really looking forward to this week."

JJ Spaun landed the Valero Texas Open title after coming back from a double-bogey on the first hole to shoot 69 in the final round, clinching a place at the Masters in the process.

Spaun finished two strokes clear of the field on 13 under par, with Australian Matt Jones and American Matt Kuchar sharing second place at 11 under.

With his win, the Californian became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2008 to win a PGA Tour event after double-bogeying the opening hole of the final round.

The 31-year-old went bogey-free the rest of the way, collecting birdies on the sixth, eighth, ninth, 11th and 14th holes – giving him a birdie on the par-five 14th hole in all four rounds.

It is the first PGA Tour win of Spaun's career, and with it, he punched his ticket to Augusta National in just a few days.

Spaun said the scale of his achievement was hard to believe.

"I think a year ago to even be on tour I would have been telling you I'd have to do a lot of work to get there," he said.

"But to be here, and to overcome a lot of things and finally get a win, that's everything you dream of. It's incredible. I'm speechless."

On his early double-bogey and how he recovered, he said the moment actually calmed him down.

"It didn't bother me as much as you would think – if anything, it kind of calmed me down," he said.

"I knew there was still a lot of golf, and I would rather double the first hole than the last hole, so I just knew if I stayed patient and kept plugging away and put myself in contention with nine holes to play, that's all I could ask for."

The best performances from the fourth round were a pair of 66s posted by Jones, who finished second, and Keegan Bradley, who jumped up into a tie for eighth.

Among those one stroke worse on the day with 67s were Canadian Adam Hadwin, who finished in a tie for fourth, and Jordan Spieth, who was at even par coming into the round and flew up the leaderboard into a tie for 35th at five under.

Of the three joint-leaders with Spaun coming into Sunday's play, Beau Hossler finished the highest, tied for fourth at 10 under after shooting even par; South African Dylan Frittelli dropped one stroke and tied for eighth; and Brandt Snedeker ended with a whimper, finishing three over for the round to fall to a tie for 18th.

After a scorching start to the week saw Russell Knox as the outright leader with a first-round 65, he followed it with rounds of 76, 71 and 76 again to finish the weekend where the cut-line was at even par.

Tiger Woods will make a late call on whether he takes part in the Masters after revealing he would continue his preparation at Augusta on Sunday.

Fifteen-time major winner Woods, who has triumphed five times at the tournament, has not played on the PGA Tour since November 2020.

The 46-year-old underwent back surgery the following month and then sustained major injuries in a car accident in February last year.

Woods previously admitted he was lucky to survive and simply making a recovery was his top priority, rather than a return to golf.

However, some 25 years on from his first triumph at Augusta, the American has been listed among the expected 91 participants for the 2022 Masters, which begins on April 7.

Woods, who famously won the 2019 Masters after returning from multiple back surgeries, confirmed he will do everything he can to take part in one of golf's most prestigious events.

Posting on Twitter, he wrote: "I will be heading up to Augusta today to continue my preparation and practice. It will be a game-time decision on whether I compete."

Brandt Snedeker and Beau Hossler both shot five-under-par 67 to join JJ Spaun and Dylan Frittelli atop the leaderboard, after the third round of the Valero Texas Open on Saturday.

Spaun and Frittelli bogeyed the last par-five 18th hole to finish on 10-under-par after 54 holes, shooting rounds of 69 and 70 respectively on Saturday.

It would have been a five-way tie for the lead had Scott Stallings not also bogeyed the final hole, finding the rough and then the far-side bunker on his second and third shots.

Among the many in the field who have yet to qualify for the US Masters, Matt Kuchar is two strokes back from the leaders on eight-under-par after three rounds.

In what is essentially the final qualifier for the first major of the year, and having missed the cut at Augusta last year, Kuchar is aware of the stakes.

"I think quality play trumps anything," he said.

"I'd take execution over course knowledge any day of the week. I think it's going to take just quality golf tomorrow to win this thing."

After shooting a bogey-free round on Friday, second round leader Ryan Palmer tumbled down the leaderboard on Saturday with a five-over-par 77, finishing in 21st on five-under-par.

Spaun and Hossler are both looking for their first PGA Tour win, while Frittelli last won in 2019 at the John Deere Classic and Snedeker took the Wyndham Championship in 2018.

Hossler finished with momentum on Saturday, making three consecutive birdies from the 14th hole. His career-best finish was a second at the Houston Open in 2018.

A win for Snedeker would make for his 13th trip to Augusta.

Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau were among the big names whose preparation for the 2022 Masters took a blow at the Valero Texas Open on Friday.

In the last week before the first major of the year, McIlroy, DeChambeau, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler all missed the cut.

With the cut line at one under par, McIlroy's second-round 73 left him one over, while DeChambeau was way off the pace at five over following his 76.

DeChambeau has not long returned from injury, finishing bottom of his group at last week's WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, losing two of his three matches and tying the other.

When he started with a triple-bogey on Friday, it became clear the 2020 U.S. Open champion would not be continuing into the weekend in Texas.

Meanwhile, McIlroy had been in encouraging form a month ago, but his performances have gradually declined to the point an Augusta challenge again seems unlikely.

The Masters remains the only major McIlroy is yet to win.

While the big names faltered, world number 547 Kevin Chappell excelled, finishing his second round in a tie for second place, two shots behind leader Ryan Palmer.

Once a contender on the PGA Tour, Chappell's only win came at this event five years ago.

"I just feel at ease around this place," he said after shooting a 65. "My soul and this golf course get along. I really enjoy being here.

"I'm excited about where my game is because I don't think I've played great yet.

"It's not like the ball is coming out of the middle of the clubface every time and flying where I'm looking, but I've been able to scramble and get the ball in the hole."

Ryan Palmer holds a two-stroke lead over the field after the second round of the Valero Texas Open.

Palmer, who shot four under in round one, finished with a six-under 66 to move to 10 under.

The American finished the round bogey-free, and three times carded back-to-back birdies on the second and third, eighth and ninth, and 14th and 15th.

Speaking to the media after his round, Palmer said the key to his success is to limit the severity of his mistakes.

"It's a golf course – if you get it off-line, you're going to struggle," he said. 

"I was able to keep the ball in front of me. When I've missed fairways, I've gotten fortunate breaks, I think. 

"[This] weekend, it's a matter of just avoiding those big misses."

Kevin Chappell worked his way into a three-way tie for second after he shot 65 for the best round of the day, and he is joined at eight under by South Africa's Dylan Frittelli and American Matt Kuchar.

Chappell – who is ranked as the world number 547 – played the course beautifully, nabbing an eagle on the par five second hole before going bogey-free and birdieing the eighth, ninth, 12th, 15th and 17th.

The leader after round one, Russell Knox, had a poor day, bogeying four of his first six holes on the way to shooting 76, dropping down to three under and a tie for 27th.

With the cut-line at even par, Jordan Spieth followed up his even par first round with a 70 on Friday to sneak into the frame.

Plenty of notable names who will hope to contest the US Masters crown next week failed to make the cut, including Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau.

 

Hideki Matsuyama's defence of his Masters title has been left in doubt after a neck injury forced the 30-year-old to withdraw from the Valero Texas Open.

Matsuyama became the first male Japanese golfer to win a major championship with last year's success at Augusta National, edging out American trio Will Zalatoris, Xander Schauffele, and Jordan Spieth in the final round for a one-stroke victory.

However, with less than a week remaining until the 2022 edition of the Masters begins on April 7, Matsuyama withdrew nine holes into his second round in San Antonio, citing a neck injury. 

Reports have suggested that the 30-year-old has suffered a recurrence of the same injury which kept him out of The Players Championship last month, eventually won by Australia's Cameron Smith.

Matsuyama's most recent result saw him tie for 20th position at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and he has won two PGA titles since last year's Augusta triumph, winning the Zozo Championship on home soil last October before lifting Hawaii's Sony Open in a play-off in January.

Matsuyama sits 12th in the world rankings, and has made the top 10 in four of the 10 PGA events at which he has featured in the 2022 season.

Russell Knox's bogey-free 65 earned him top spot on the Valero Texas Open leaderboard after the first round of action at TPC San Antonio.

The Scotsman was excellent all day, highlighted by his four consecutive birdies starting on the 12th hole to finish seven under.

He is one stroke ahead of Denmark's Rasmus Hojgaard, who eagled the par-five 18th to finish at six under and make up for his double-bogey on nine.

Speaking to the media after his round, Knox spoke about getting control of his driver, and the potential to play in next week's US Masters.

"I would love to win and get to play next week," he said. 

"I know my game is good, so I've got to keep playing well and see if I can have a great finish.

"I've been a little more consistent tee to green. I'm back to kind of feeling like the way I should be playing, which has been nice.

"Off the tee's been kind of important for me. Over the last couple years I just kind of got off track slightly, hitting a few wayward tee shots.

"I've worked hard with my coach, Mark McCann, and we've really gone back to fundamentals, got my set-up correct and it just gives me the freedom to kind of swing away.

"I know it's never going to be perfect, but the last couple months it's really been a strength of mine again."

Matt Kuchar and Englishman Aaron Rai are in a four-player tie for third at five under, with India's Anirban Lahiri and Australian Matthew Jones part of the large contingent at four under.

In-form Canadian Corey Conners finished tied with Richard Bland and Tony Finau with a big group at two under, with Ian Poulter and Keegan Bradley one shot further back.

It was an up-and-down round for Rickie Fowler, with his bogey on 18 forcing him to accept even-par for the day, which he shared with stars Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

Bryson DeChambeau and Lee Westwood highlighted the group at plus one, while Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama will be fighting to make the cut after carding plus two.

Rory McIlroy says it would be "phenomenal" if Tiger Woods can prove himself and others wrong by returning to action in next week's Masters at Augusta National.

Fifteen-time major winner Woods, who has triumphed five times at The Masters, has not played on the PGA Tour since November 2020.

The 46-year-old underwent back surgery the following month and was then sustained major injuries in a car accident in February last year.

Woods previously admitted he was lucky to survive and simply making a recovery was his top priority, rather than a return to golf.

However, 25 years on from his first triumph at Augusta, the American has been listed among the expected 91 participants for the 2022 Masters, which begins on April 7.

Woods only fuelled speculation of an audacious competitive comeback when playing a practice round with his son Charlie and friend Justin Thomas on Tuesday.

There is no official word as to whether Woods will tee off in a top-tier event for the first time in well over a year, but former world number one McIlroy welcomed the idea of one of the sport's greats taking part.

"I think for golf and the Masters tournament and everyone, to have Tiger there would be phenomenal," he said at a news conference ahead of this week's Texas Open.

"It just adds to the event. Anything Tiger Woods does in the game of golf is heightened whenever he is there, so it would be awesome for him to be there.

"He was there yesterday and he's trying to see what he can do so obviously nobody knows but him if he can make it around and if he believes he can compete."

Woods, who played in the unofficial PNC Championship with his son in December, famously won the 2019 Masters after returning from multiple knee and back surgeries.

"The sheer will and perseverance, it's incredible," McIlroy added. "If he comes back from this again... he likes to prove people wrong. He likes to prove himself wrong.

"Regardless of when he does come back, he's a wonderful addition to the game, and the game of golf is better when he's playing and when he's playing well."

Tiger Woods arrived at Augusta National on Tuesday for a practice round as he considers an audacious comeback to professional golf at the Masters, reports in the United States said.

The 15-time major winner, who has triumphed five times at The Masters, has not played on the PGA Tour since November 2020.

His last appearance was at Augusta, with The Masters having been delayed by seven months in that year due to the pandemic.

He underwent back surgery in December 2020, and was then seriously hurt in a February 2021 single-car crash, when he sustained major leg and foot injuries.

Woods has since admitted he was lucky to survive, with the 46-year-old slowly recovering from the physical trauma over the past year.

The 2022 Masters marks 25 years since Woods first won at Augusta, when he sensationally triumphed by 12 strokes for his maiden major title. He last triumphed at the course in 2019, ending an 11-year wait for his 15th major.

Sports Illustrated reported on Tuesday that Woods arrived at the course to see how his body would stand up to the physical demands of the undulations at Augusta.

The report said a source, who did not wish to be named, confirmed Woods arrived with son Charlie, and that world number seven Justin Thomas, a close friend, was also with them.

The Masters runs from April 7-10, and as a former champion Woods benefits from a lifetime exemption.

He took his first steps towards a return by playing at the PNC Championship with his son in December, but that is a light-hearted event where professionals perform alongside a family member, and Woods was able to use a golf cart to get around.

Speaking last month, Woods said he was a "long way off" a return to competitive action, adding he could not commit to returning to the PGA Tour this calendar year.

"You'll see me [again] on the PGA Tour, I just don’t know when," Woods said on CBS during coverage of the Genesis Invitational.

Scottie Scheffler is still coming to terms with his new status as the number one golfer in the world after victory in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play final on Sunday.

The 25-year-old was still waiting on his first PGA Tour win at the start of February but has sensationally come out on top in three of his five entries since.

His latest triumph, secured with a 4 and 3 win over Kevin Kisner in Austin, made him the 25th man to lead the Official World Golf Ranking since its inception in 1986.

Scheffler moved to 3 up by the sixth hole and scarcely looked in trouble throughout, ultimately sinking a putt for par on the 15th to claim victory.

Displacing Spain's Jon Rahm at the summit and with his family watching on from the side, the American acknowledged afterwards he was yet to truly realise the magnitude of his new status.

"[It is] pretty cool to do that in front of my family," Scheffler said. "They've supported me so much along the way, and I really don't know what to say about that.

"I don't feel like number one in the world. I feel like the same guy I was four months ago, and I hope that doesn't change. Yeah, I don't feel any different."

Scheffler came second in last year's WGC Match Play, losing 2 and 1 to Billy Horschel in a painful defeat that has since played on his mind.

"[There was] definitely a lot of emotion coming off the green," he said. "It's been kind of a crazy past few months.

"I got my first win in Phoenix, and then I guess this is my third now, and golly, what a long week.

"I really don't know how to describe the emotion. I've thought about winning this tournament ever since last year.

"It left kind of a poor taste in my mouth, getting so close and ultimately coming up short. So it feels really good to finish the job this time around."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.