Take it as you may, but the buzz around Augusta is that Tiger Woods is in town and practicing for the Masters. A plane matching the tail number of Woods’ jet was parked at Augusta Regional Airport this morning, according to the Augusta Chronicle’s Scott Michaux.
However, there is yet to be definitive word that the four-time Masters champion will tee it up for next week’s Masters. Last week, Woods’ good buddy and Golf Channel analyst/announcer/TW expert Notah Begay said that after speaking with Tiger, he wagered that the odds of his playing were “50/50.”
Now, with the report that Tiger is in Augusta — or at least his plane is — the speculation and intrigue only continue to grow.
Woods hasn’t played competitive golf since early February when he completed only 11 holes in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open before withdrawing due to stiffness in his back. Prior to that, in his 2015 debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open a week earlier, the 14-time major champion missed the cut after posting rounds of 73-82 at TPC Scottsdale.
Following his withdrawal at Torrey Pines, where he’s won eight times, Woods announced on February 11 that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence to work on his struggling game. He said that his golf was not acceptable for tournament play and he would return when he felt like he was ready.
Since then, Woods has skipped two events that normally appear on his schedule — the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he’s won eight times. The latter came as a surprise to many because of the massive success he’s had at Bay Hill.
When he announced via his website that he’d be missing Arnie’s tournament, he added, “I hope to be ready for the Masters, and I will continue to work hard preparing for Augusta.”
For the first time since he entered the top 100 in the world rankings in 1996 when he won the Las Vegas Invitational, Woods dropped to 104th on Monday.
Woods missed the Masters for the first time in 20 years last year in 2014 after undergoing back surgery at the end of March. It’s hard to fathom that he’d miss the event two years in a row, but again, whether he will tee it up remains to be seen. Good news is that it appears his game feels ready enough to at least get some practice in at Augusta National.