Insatiable Tiger Woods eyes record sixth Masters jacket

Darren Walton |

Tiger Woods is all smiles as he practices at Augusta with a sixth Masters jacket in his sights.
Tiger Woods is all smiles as he practices at Augusta with a sixth Masters jacket in his sights.

Robbed of his power but retaining a relentless drive and desire, Tiger Woods earnestly believes he can conjure one last golfing miracle and land a record-setting sixth Masters green jacket.

Five years after winning his fifth and most improbable Masters yet, Woods has arrived for his latest tilt with his body aching all over “every day” and needing to break Jack Nicklaus’s mark as the oldest champion in the tournament’s 90-year history.

But the 48-year-old insists he’s not at Augusta National to make up the numbers.

“If it all comes together,  I think I can get one more,” Woods said ahead of the season’s first major championship starting on Thursday.

Tiger Woods.
Tiger Woods’ remarkable Augusta triumph in 2019 was one of sports great comeback stories. (AP PHOTO)

Woods has completed only two competitive rounds since making an unprecedented 24th Masters cut last year, then withdrawing before round three, his rebuilt right ankle no longer able to carry him around golf’s most gruelling walk.

The 15-time major winner admits he’s still in no physical shape to play more than a handful of times a year.

Tellingly, though, he says it’s not the ankle shattered in a Los Angeles car accident in 2021 that troubles him these days.

“The ankle doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s fused. It’s not going anywhere. So that’s fine,” he said.

“It’s other parts of my body that now have to take the brunt of it. So once he put the rods in there, it’s good to go.

“But the back, the knee, other parts of the body have to take the load of it, and just the endurance capability of walking a long time and being on my feet for a long time.

“I ache. No, I ache every day. And I prefer it warm and humid and hot. And I know we’re going to get some thunderstorms so at least it will be hot. It won’t be like last year.”

Woods candidly conceded his 15-year-old son Charlie can now drive the ball past him but said length wouldn’t be the key this week to mastering Augusta once more.

“It’s consistency, it’s longevity and it’s an understanding of how to play this golf course,” he said.

“That’s one of the reasons why you see players that are in their 50s and 60s make cuts here, or it’s players in their late 40s have runs at winning the event, just the understanding of how to play it.

“Now, you still have to go out and execute it but there’s a lot of knowledge that goes into understanding how to play it.

“And granted, every tee box has been changed since the first time I played. Every green has been changed. But the overall configuration of how they roll and how they move and the angles you take, that hasn’t changed.

“That’s the neat thing about this.”

Tiger Woods.
Tiger Woods hits to the second green as he readies himself for a course he says rewards experience. (AP PHOTO)

Then there’s his ferocious appetite and iron will to win.

“I love golf. I do. I’ve always loved it. I played other sports growing up, but I just have always loved this sport. I love to compete,” he said.

“And to be able to have the love I have for the game and the love for competition be intertwined, I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve had a successful career.

“I just love doing the work. I love logging the time in and I love preparing. I love competing, and I love that feeling when everything’s on fire with a chance to win.

“And you either you do or you don’t.”

If he doesn’t, Woods would love to see fellow PGA Tour statesman Rory McIlroy join him in golf’s most exclusive club as a career grand slam winner.

Only Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan have achieved the mighty feat.

“No question, he’ll do it at some point. Rory’s too talented, too good,” Woods said.

“He’s going to be playing this event for a very long time. He’ll get it done. It’s just a matter of when.”

AAP