Tiger Woods has returned! Only 14 months after nearly losing his right leg in a vehicle accident, the golf icon competed in his first professional golf competition, the 2022 Masters, on Thursday.
While he was not among the leaders after the morning session on Thursday, he entered the clubhouse T9 on the leaderboard after shooting a 1-under 71. Woods parred the first five holes before making a birdie on the sixth.
For the rest of the round, he bounced between even and 1 under, with another series of five straight pars before a birdie on the 13th. While vital par saves defined his round, the highlight of the afternoon was a thrilling birdie on the 16th.
To excite the audience, Woods drove his tee shot to 29 yards from the hole, set up his putt, and blasted a stunning effort accentuated by his characteristic fist pump to return him to under par for the round.
He made par on the last two holes, plus a save on the 18th, for a brilliant round that puts him in contention despite his failure to break away from the pack.
For a man who has won five green jackets in his illustrious career and has never missed a cut at the Masters as a professional, his swing and game have been as sharp as they have been throughout many practice rounds over the last week.
Remember, Woods’ last official competition was the 2020 Masters, which took place in November of that year, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon after, he had another back surgery and spent the next year rehabbing both that and his right leg, putting himself through so much physical therapy that Woods stated Tuesday he wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Despite this, Woods is competing and winning at Augusta National. He isn’t on the field simply to compete on the track where he is the most well-known. Given how difficult it is to win the Masters while perfectly healthy and not 14 months removed from nearly losing a limb in an automobile accident, Woods winning this tournament would be a great achievement. With his performance on Thursday, Woods maintained himself in position to do just that.
The Masters competition in 2022 runs till Sunday.
This story was originally published by CBS Sports on April 7, 2022 at 6:55 p.m.