Ian Woosnam ditches Batmobile for drive back up Magnolia Lane

Ian Woosnam probably gave Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley and his fellow Green Jacket officials the fright of their lives when he was photographed with the Batmobile last weekend.

Ian Woosnam posted a picture of himself sitting in the Batmobile in Naples in Florida at the weekend

But, while Woosnam has decided to make his return to the season’s opening major on the 30th anniversary of his victory in the event, he didn’t borrow the superhero’s car for the drive back up Magnolia Lane.

“It was the actual one,” reported the little Welshman of the Batmobile, having posted a picture of him sitting in it at the weekend in Naples in Florida before swapping it for one of the official courtesy cars for this week.

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After 11 successive missed cuts in this event, Woosnam said two years ago that he was calling it a day due to a painful back condition called ankylosing spondylitis that inflames the spine and makes walking uphill.

“This is the last one. Sad to go,” he said at the time. “It’s a real struggle for me around here. Every time I come to the Masters, walking up these hills, slide slopes and everything it really affects me.”

The 63-year-old has been galvanised, though, after having back surgery a year past January and is excited about playing in his first tournament for 18 months.

“I’ve always said if I could do something, I'd have another go,” he said. “So I decided to have a back operation 15 months ago, and with the pandemic being around, I've managed to recover pretty good.

“I'm just looking forward to getting out there and enjoying two more rounds, or hopefully if it goes well and I can maybe come back for a few more years.”

Asked about having a specific goal, he added: “Just to try and play the course without being in any pain really, because I've been in pain for the last 20 years playing around here.”

Woosnam claimed his Green Jacket three years after Sandy Lyle had become the first British player to achieve that feat, with a double triumph from Nick Faldo being sandwiched between those victories.

“Not really,” replied Woosnam to being asked if he was big on anniversaries, “but that was another thing, coming back at 30 years to have another go.

“The people have watched me around the world and I am just thankful that I could come out and have the chance to play again, really.”

Woosnam was speaking after playing a practice round with Lee Westwood, who is heading into the event with high hopes of landing his first major after being in fine form lately.

“He's munching it pretty good out there,” said Woosnam of the European No 1. “He seems to be really in control of his game. Just said to him, just be patient.

“The course is going to be playing really difficult, I think. It's fast on the greens, let's put it that way. They're firm, and you've got to hit the proper shot into the right part of the green and then take your chances from there.”

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