Tiger Wood calls his comeback “a miracle.”
Woods is playing the Masters for the first time since 2015, after going through spinal fusion surgery to relieve chronic back pain.
The four-time Augusta champion says he doesn’t “know anybody who had lower back fusion and can swing the club as fast as I can swing it.”
After myriad health problems, Woods seems to have his game in order heading into the first major of the year. He’s listed as one of the co-favorites, even though the last of his 14 major titles came nearly a decade ago at the U.S. Open.
Woods last won the Masters in 2005. He couldn’t play the last two years because of back issues, which he describes as “very, very difficult.” He watched as much of the tournament as he could on television, but adds that “it’s even more fun playing.”
Woods like his chance this week. In his words, “This is a tournament where it really helps to have experience” and he has “an understanding of how to play this particular golf course.”
Tiger Woods will tee off at 10:42 a.m. Thursday in the first round of the Masters. Woods will be paired with Marc Leishman and Tommy Fleetwood.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia, Justin Thomas and amateur Doc Redman will be in the group behind Woods. Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson and Jason Day will tee off behind them, creating a star-studded stretch of golf at the year’s first major.
Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar will tee off in the afternoon, at 1:27 p.m.
Rory McIlroy, who is going for the career Grand Slam, tees off at 1:38 p.m., followed by 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is in the final group, which tees off at 2 p.m. Johnson had to drop out of the tournament last year after injuring himself in a fall.
The tournament will begin at 8:15 a.m. with ceremonial tee shots from Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
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