The Masters: Tiger Woods return at Augusta National would be ‘phenomenal’, says Rory McIlroy

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Tiger Woods has increased speculation about a possible return to action in The Masters by playing a practice round at Augusta National; Rory McIlroy: “Nobody knows but him [Tiger] if he can make it around and if he believes he can compete”

Rory McIlroy is relishing the possibility of Tiger Woods teeing it up at The Masters and believes it would be “phenomenal” to see him returning to action at Augusta National.

The 15-time major winner has not featured in a PGA Tour event since a tied-38th finish at The Masters in November 2020, with Woods still yet to return to action since requiring surgery on open fractures in a life-threatening car crash last February.

Woods played in the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie, in December but has yet to confirm whether he will play in the opening men’s major of the year, with the former world No 1 unable to put a timetable on his return when asked during the Genesis Invitational last month.

The 46-year-old reportedly played a practice round at Augusta on Tuesday, fuelling speculation that the five-time Masters champion could be set for a sensational comeback, with McIlroy welcoming the idea that Woods could feature again next week.

“I think for golf and the Masters tournament and everyone, to have Tiger [Woods] there would be phenomenal,” McIlroy said in a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the Valero Texas Open.

“It just adds to the event of course, 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 obviously 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 has special reason to attend the annual gathering of former champions as this year marks the 25th anniversary of his first Masters triumph, by a record 12 shots, in 1997.

He could also choose to play in the pre-tournament par-three contest on April 6, having previously said he would be fit enough to manage the nine holes. “I can do that now,” Woods said during his press conference at last month. “Whether I do that or not, I don’t know.”

Tiger woods

On whether a Woods return would surprise McIlroy, the Northern Irishman added: “It’s not even being somewhat healthy, it’s also what he has to do before the round and after the round just to get himself ready to go and play golf. Yeah, the sheer will and perseverance, it is incredible.

“If he comes back from this again, it’s just, he likes to prove people wrong, he likes to prove himself wrong, I think. Regardless of when he does come back, whether it’s next week or a few weeks, few months down the line, 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.”

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