When Tiger Woods’ plane was spotted at the Augusta Regional Airport on Tuesday, the buzz and speculation on whether or not the 14-time major champion will play in next week’s Masters reached an all-time high. Now, Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg has confirmed that Woods did indeed play a practice round at Augusta National, according to several reports.
“He continues to work on the game and will advise in coming days what plan is,” Steinberg wrote in an email via USA Today.
So, you’re saying there’s a chance! — that’s not a “no,” but it’s not a “yes,” either. I’m leaning on the latter, though.
On February 11, Woods announced that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the game because it was unacceptable for tournament golf, and he added that he would return when he felt it was ready for competition. Whether or not he’s resolved his short game woes still remains to be seen — or for that matter, if he’s “tournament ready.” (But Augusta National would by far be the worst venue of the year to have a case of chipping yips.)
Woods has only played 47 holes in competition this year. He withdrew from the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open in February after completing only 11 holes. The week prior, he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open after posting scores of 73-82.
Tiger missed two events on his regular Tour calendar, the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he’s won a record eight times. The chatter really heightened when Woods revealed that he wouldn’t be playing at Bay Hill. After all, it’s a course where he’s had so much success that it seemed like his game must have still be in complete disarray if he didn’t feel like he could play there.
On Monday, Woods dropped to 104th in the world rankings — it was the first time he had fallen outside the top 100 since his maiden victory at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational. He holds the record for the longest reign ranked at no. 1 at 683 consecutive weeks.
Now, with a mere sighting of a plane and confirmation of an 18-hole practice rounds, signs are pointing toward Woods’ return to competitive golf next week at Augusta National.