Australian great Craig Parry says he is blown away by the prospect of Tiger Woods playing at this week’s Masters Tournament, as speculation mounts that the 15-time major champion will make his return to competitive golf.
Woods hasn’t played in an official tournament since the car accident that nearly took his life last February.
Thousands of fans packed Augusta National this morning to watch the 46-year-old perform a practice round alongside Justin Thomas and 1992 champion Fred Couples.
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This year marks the 25th anniversary of Woods’ historic victory in 1997, the first of five times he donned the green jacket.
Woods said in a tweet earlier this week that “it will be a game-time decision if I compete.”
The only time he has played publicly since his accident was in December, when he teamed up with his son Charlie in the PNC Championship, an unofficial tournament where he was allowed to use a cart.
It was also played on a relatively flat course, much easier on the legs than Augusta National.
“After he had his accident, I thought there was no way he was going to be back playing tournament golf, let alone playing around Augusta,” Parry told Wide World of Sports.
“Augusta is really hilly as a golf course, you need to be in good physical shape to play there, not to mention mental, which has never been a problem for Tiger.
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“If he plays he will be there to win, that’s exactly what he is.”
Parry explained that Augusta is notable for having so many uneven lies on the fairways, which should have given Woods a hard time given the extent of his leg injuries.
“The only time you get a flat lie is on the practice fairway! Seriously, that’s the truth about Augusta, there are slopes everywhere,” Parry said.
“Every fairway is either uphill or downhill or sidehill, which is what makes it extremely difficult to hit the shots.
“That’s why Augusta is unique among all touring courses.”
Australian golf commentator Luke Elvy tweeted that Woods’ practice round was “like the Beatles” with crowds jostling for a glimpse of the former world number 1.
Woods is no stranger to playing with pain, having won the 2008 US Open with stress fractures in his leg and a torn ACL.
“It’s a major championship. It’s Augusta,” said Brooks Koepka.
“No matter how much you suffer, you find a way. He will find a way. If anyone can do it, he can.”
Woods has yet to play a full 18 holes at Augusta, limiting himself to nine holes a day as he assesses his fitness.
Although he is not yet a confirmed starter in the 86th Masters, his mere presence at a practice round has overshadowed anything that could happen this week, barring Jack Nicklaus making a surprise comeback at the age of 82 years old.
“I’m amazed. It’s a real testament to his work ethic because we all know what he does on the golf course, how hard he works, and the stories and the legend,” said Max Homa, three-time PGA Tour winner.
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