Tiger Woods returning from injury to play in The Masters this week would be “the biggest thing” for golf, according to Patrick Cantlay, while Webb Simpson insists the five-time champion can compete for another green jacket.
Woods practiced at Augusta National on Monday as the golfing world awaits his “game decision” on whether or not to play in a first major tournament since suffering career-threatening leg injuries in a car accident last February.
Alongside the fans, who packed the pitch on Monday to watch Woods train, his fellow professionals seem genuinely excited about the possibility of the 46-year-old doing so on Thursday.
Cantlay, who played under Woods in the 2019 Presidents Cup, tried to explain why the presence of the 15-time Major winner means so much to his peers.
“I think to see him be so far superior to almost any golfer since (Jack) Nicklaus,” the world No. 5 said on Monday. “Naturally, you’re inspired by that kind of performance and dedication to mastering everything.
As Woods hopes to compete in this year’s Masters, check out highlights from his previous five wins at Augusta National
“So for someone who has dedicated most of their life to playing the game of golf as well as possible, to see someone who has come as close to mastering the game as anyone else, I think that’s admirable.
“I think he’s a good example of life not always being perfect, and so it’s really exciting to see him on his highs. And so hopefully he’s able to play this week and to play well, and obviously that’s the biggest thing for our sport. There’s definitely a different feel to the tournaments he’s been in.”
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Simpson: Tiger can still wrestle
2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson said Woods’ “incredible willpower” means he can never be left out of a tournament.
The last of Woods’ 15 major titles came at Augusta in 2019, with the win seen as a major upset after multiple back surgeries and a series of personal issues off the course.
“As a player, we love it. I think we’re all Tiger fans,” Simpson said of Woods’ potential return. “I learned my lesson of never counting him a few years ago when he came – he came back so many times after injury. So he’s an inspiration to all of us.
“Even when I injured my neck earlier this year, I thought it stinks right now but I can come back, I can fully recover, but he had a much worse injury. I like that he will try.
“Whenever anyone asks me if Tiger can wrestle the answer is yes. Just an incredible will inside of him whether he’s injured or sick or struggling with his golf swing or whatever. So it’s really cool that he’s doing the push this week to come back after that car accident. Hopefully he does on Thursday.
Horschel: Only injury will keep Tiger out
Billy Horschel says he doubts Woods would have pulled out all the stops in Augusta this week if it wasn’t his intention to compete.
However, the world No. 13 is wary that any sort of injury setback to Woods in his final preparations could lead to a change of plans.
Billy Horschel reveals he spoke to Woods and thinks he could make his return this week at Augusta National
“Do I think he’s going to play? He didn’t tell me no, and he didn’t tell me,” Horschel said, following a conversation with Woods in the area. training.
“But if I’m in his shoes, I’m not doing all the things I’ve been doing for the past few months or anything, just to show up here and not play.
“I think he intends to play, in his mind he intends to play, he’s doing everything to prepare to play. The only thing that would stop him from doing that would be if he got injured. a little, foot, ankle, leg whatever doesn’t feel good.
“So I guess he’s going to play and I’m going to be as excited as everyone else who steps on this pitch if he plays.”
Homa: Tiger Rehab reminds me of Kobe
Max Homa says Woods’ approach to injury rehabilitation is reminiscent of basketball great Kobe Bryant.
NBA legend Bryant, known for his fierce competitiveness, starred in a documentary chronicling his recovery from a torn Achilles in 2013.
Take a look at some of the most memorable putts from Woods’ record-breaking PGA Tour career
Asked about Woods’ presence in Augusta, Homa said, “I’d be surprised if it was someone else who ever lived. So, no, I’m not surprised.”
“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. But sitting there and doing all that physiotherapy is – it’s just being boring at the very least, let alone difficult.
“It reminds me of The Muse documentary with Kobe Bryant after he burst his Achilles. It’s just that he picks up marbles with his toes and puts them in, and he does that way more than anyone else. That’s what I imagine Tiger is doing, as well as doing as many reps as possible to get ready. It’s really remarkable.”
Watch The Masters throughout the week exclusively live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday with the bands featured from 2pm on Sky Sports Golf.
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