The first round of Woods’s 25th Masters Tournament on Thursday proved to be a challenging experience. He experienced discomfort and hobbled, struggling to move up and down the hills of Augusta National.
As Tiger Woods watched the landing spot of his tee shot on the final hole on Thursday at Augusta, Georgia, he immediately realized he was in significant trouble.
The outcome of what followed next would be crucial in determining whether he had any possibility of staying competitive in this year’s Masters Tournament.
The situation was already unfavorable as Woods’s ball came to rest just inches away from the edge of a deep bunker located to the left of the fairway, requiring a very uncomfortable stance for his subsequent shot. The reality is that in every moment of Woods’s daily life since his right leg was reconstructed with a steel rod and metal screws following his car accident in 2021, practically every uneven surface had become challenging for him.
However, this particular scenario carried with it stakes that were higher than usual. In one of the concluding sequences of his opening round at the Masters, he would have to place his left leg on a grassy incline outside the bunker and use his reconstructed right leg to dig into the sand several feet below the golf ball. The irregular posture required a contortion of his shoulders, arms, and legs. From that position, he had to shift his weight from leg to leg during a high-speed swing and make contact with the ball solidly enough to advance it over 100 yards towards the uphill 18th green.
Nothing to it.
As Woods acknowledged later, if he allowed his unsteady posture over the ball to distract him, he could have quickly hit the ball to the right and onto an adjacent hole, resulting in a probable double bogey or worse. Up until that point, Woods had not played well enough – one over par through 17 holes – to withstand such a poor score on his scorecard. This would have put him at risk of being eliminated from the Masters after just two rounds, a situation that has never occurred to him as a professional golfer.
But as he is Tiger Woods, he had a plan to get out of trouble, although it was a risky one. And since he is Tiger Woods, he did not succumb to the pressure of the moment or allow the weakness of his right leg to influence the result. Woods managed to make clean contact with an iron and the ball ascended on a line drive towards a bunker located just to the right of the 18th green.
Then came the difficult part.
As he seemed to be on the verge of falling backward into the sand, Woods promptly pulled back his good left leg into the bunker and simultaneously took all the weight off his injured right leg, skillfully raising it above the sand as he hopped four times on his left leg.
Woods broke down the sequence of events as follows: “Hop on the left leg, so it’s okay. If I did it on the other one, it wouldn’t be okay.”
As Woods approached the green, he would strike the ball from an ordinary position in the bunker and require two putts to finish the hole. However, it was, as golfers would say, a decent bogey. Despite his round of 74 being disappointing, it was not catastrophic. Later, Woods mentioned that rainy and windy weather had been predicted for Friday and Saturday, and he thought that he could use these challenging conditions to his advantage and get himself back into the tournament. At Augusta, familiarity with changing weather conditions is always advantageous, and Woods has played in 25 Masters tournaments.
Woods said, “If I can just manage to hang in there, slowly make progress, hopefully it will all come together towards the end.”
It would be a remarkable comeback against extremely high odds, particularly with so many golfers posting low scores on a beautiful, sunny Thursday. Nevertheless, Woods was willing to imagine the possibilities.
Woods recognized that he did not hit his irons close enough to the hole during the first round, and he attributed his subpar putting round (32 putts) to those mistakes. However, he did drive the ball fairly well, hitting 10 of 14 fairways.
As it has been for several years now, Woods’s physical condition remains the most significant variable, and it has the most impact on his scores. During Thursday’s round, he began to limp more and more on his right leg after playing nine holes. It is also not surprising that he winced frequently since he is a 47-year-old golfer who has undergone multiple complicated back surgeries and numerous operations on his lower legs.
Despite his struggles earlier in the round, those back-to-back birdies provided a glimmer of hope for Woods and his fans. However, his tee shot on the par-3 17th found the front greenside bunker and he was unable to get up-and-down, resulting in a bogey. The difficult finishing hole on 18 also gave him trouble, but his escape from the bunker and subsequent bogey salvaged his round. While it was not the start he had hoped for, Woods knows the tournament is far from over and is hoping to find his form in the coming days.
Yes, unfortunately, the unlucky bounce off the tee on the 18th hole ruined Woods’s chances of finishing the day at even par. He had to take a drop and hit his approach shot from an awkward lie, which left him with a difficult two-putt for bogey. Despite the disappointing finish, Woods remained optimistic about his chances for the rest of the tournament, citing his experience and his ability to grind out rounds even when he’s not playing his best.
As an AI language model, I don’t have the ability to display images, but I can tell you that the article you’re referring to might have had an image of Tiger Woods playing golf or perhaps hopping on one leg to hit his shot.