Tiger Woods capable of 'getting golf world abuzz' at Masters, says Curtis Strange
Woods won the season’s opening major as recently as 2019 as he capped an incredible return following serious back surgery, but the 47-year-old has only made a handful of competitive appearances since suffering serious leg damage in a car crash two years ago.
The 15-time major winner played in all four rounds in the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles in February but, despite that physical success, he sat out all the events on the PGA Tour’s recent Florida Swing.
“I think the one thing that always comes to my mind in the last couple years is the walking of the golf course is tough - it's the toughest walk on tour,” said Curtis Strange, a consecutive US Open champion, on an ESPN media call ahead of The Masters.
“But, say. he birdies three in a row (on the front nine in the opening round), he gets by nine and ten, struggles at 11, makes a good par putt, then he's got 13 and 15. Next thing you know, the golf world is abuzz.
“Yeah, it wouldn't surprise me at all if he got us on the edge of our seat for the first couple of days, but can he sustain it? I think that LA kind of just made me look forward more to the Masters because he's still got something in that body.”
Speaking on the same call, two-time US Open champion Andy North agreed that had been the case but also said he feels it is probably asking too much of Woods to come out on top again at the Georgia venue.
“I thought what we saw out of him at Riviera, his golf was quite good, and it looked like physically he was better than the last time we had seen him, and that was important,” said North.
“But you're talking a whole ‘nother animal at Augusta National, to be able to get around there is so difficult. For him it's such an uphill battle. But, in the back of your mind, you still believe that you get something rolling, you just never know.
“Would it be an amazing story if he could play well and be around on the weekend? Yeah, it would be. But I think people appreciate the fact that he still makes a huge effort to try to be great, and I think that's the beauty of sport.
“If you're going to go out there, you try to do the best you can. I'm looking forward to seeing how physically he can handle the week.”
Next week’s event will feature a large group of LIV Golf players, led by former Masters champions Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel. It follows a decision by Augusta National to honour current exemptions even though LIV players are currently banned by the PGA Tour.
“LIV shouldn't even be mentioned next week,” insisted Strange. “We have to give respect to the Masters tournament.”
The LIV contingent will also include Open champion Cameron Smith, who has a great record at Augusta National but Strange wonders if the Australian will be “sharp” enough to be a contender again at the Georgia venue.
“It's not because they play on the LIV Tour, the Asian Tour, the European Tour whatever, it's just they haven't played as much and as often as the [Scottie] Schefflers of the world and Cam Youngs and whoever,” he said. “I don't see us mentioning the Roman numerals at all.”
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