The sight of Woods’s private jet, registered N517TW, touching down yesterday at Augusta Regional Airport, has got not only the golf world excited but sports fans around the globe and excited Woods may be returning to competition, and not just any tournament but the Masters.
It was last December Woods returning to a formal tournament riding about in a motorised cart when he teamed with his son, Charlie, and went so close to victory at the PNC Challenge in Orlando.
However, it’s been some 18 months since Woods last ‘walked’ a course in competition and that was in the defence of his 2019 Masters title, and due to Covid was held in November 2020. Woods played all four rounds but a final day 76 saw him finish just inside the top-40.
Speculation is now rife, and after being seen practicing at Augusta National on Tuesday, that while Woods will be certainly attending the annual Past Champions Dinner, he could now be teeing up in what would be his 24th Masters appearance.
One of those excited at the thought of welcoming Woods back to the competitive fairways is McIlroy.
“I think for golf and for the Masters tournament and for everyone, to have Tiger there would be phenomenal. I think it just adds to the event”, said McIlroy. “Obviously, it does as anything Tiger Woods does in the game of golf is heightened whenever he’s there.
“I mean, it would be awesome for him to be there. You know, he was there yesterday obviously and he’s trying to see what he can do. Obviously, no one knows but him if he can make it around and think, you know if he believes he can compete2.
But those that follow the game closely cannot be surprised at anything Woods can achieve in coming back from adversity, as we vividly recall what dramatically unfolded on the 14th of April 2019 when Woods was fitted with a fifth Masters green jacket, and in capturing Major Championship number 15.
And you get no argument from McIlroy.
“I’ve said this so many times, but from basically March of 2017 fast forward two years and he wins the Masters and where he was with his body and what he had to do to get back to being somewhat healthy,” said McIlroy. “And 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, yeah, 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, a 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”.
Like McIlroy, we all wait for a final confirmation Tiger will tee it up next week.