Tiger Woods Seeking First Masters Victory Since 2005

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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.

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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.”

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12:35 p.m.

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.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.