Tiger Woods was hitting balls on the driving range at Augusta National on Friday morning, according to Golf Channel. This comes just a few days after his plane was spotted at Augusta Regional Airport on Tuesday and his agent confirmed he played 18 holes at the site of next week’s Masters — he reportedly shot a 74, while making five birdies but hitting “several indifferent chips.”
So, while we can probably assume that Tiger is playing another practice round — fueling speculation on whether he’ll compete — it still remains to be seen if he’ll actually show up for his tee time next Thursday for the opening round of the season’s first major.
Since the Masters is an invitational, Woods is not required to commit before a certain deadline — like for regular PGA Tour events, players have to make an official decision before 5pm ET on the Friday the week prior. We can also probably assume that Woods will eventually release an announcement once he’s sure one way or the other.
Woods hasn’t played a hole of tournament golf since early February when he played 11 holes in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open before withdrawing due to back stiffness. Prior to that, he posted scores of 73-82 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he missed the cut, in his 2015 PGA Tour debut. In the 47 holes of competition that he’s played, it was clear that Woods was struggling with shots around the green and looked like he had the dreaded chipping yips.
On February 11 Woods announced that he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence from competition because his game was not acceptable for tournament golf and he would return once he felt like he was ready.
It sounds like at the moment Woods is conflicted about playing. Perhaps his game, particularly his short game, is not yet ready for competition, but he doesn’t want to miss the Masters for a second consecutive year and Augusta National is a course he is familiar with and likes. However, it’s also the last course in the world where you want to show up with any type of chipping woes.
For now, let’s continue to debate and discuss whether we think he’ll show up to play next week’s Masters. After all, the whole situation is rather intriguing. Ready? Set. Go.