The return of the golf star Tiger Woods makes a lot of talk to the best players in the world. And some indulge in the little game of predictions. Did Woods crown Sunday night?
From our special envoy to Augusta,
Woods is back in his favorite tournament. And everything is transformed. Pre-tournament press conferences almost only talked about the return of the master of the place, thirteen months after an accident that almost cost him a leg.
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In the memory of followers, never before have so many “bosses” (spectators) attended the training games of the current 973rd in the world.
Tiger lovers were at the rendezvous on Tuesday and Wednesday, despite the gloomy weather and thunderstorms that raged on Augusta. The five-time winner offered nine more reconnaissance holes on Wednesday morning and a 30-minute putting session.
He did not seem to suffer physically in these rather humid conditions, which were not ideal for the joints… He will be at the rendezvous on Thursday and will start with Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquim Niemann at 1:34 p.m.
Living legend Jack Nicklaus, who has won 18 Grand Slam titles, does not hide his admiration: “Given his state of health after his accident, it is a prodigy. We can only salute once again his impeccable work ethic.
Jordan Spieth, winner of the 2015 edition, still can’t believe it: “How much feedback has he had in his career? Certainly, his age (46 years) does not facilitate recovery. He seems to play well and is in a good mood.
It’s incredible, looking back at his condition last year. Who else could have accomplished this? The new world number one Scottie Scheffler is, in any case, not jealous to take a back seat this week.
On the contrary: “I would say that having Tiger in any tournament diverts a lot of attention from us. And in the context of the master, this is even more, the case. And for others, it takes a little pressure off because all eyes are on him.
There is a thunderstorm in the air, literally and figuratively, on the Georgian course. “You can feel the electricity in the air,” said world number two, Jon Rahm.
Justin Thomas, 7th in the world, training partner, and close friend of Woods, said: “I think Tiger will feed on this energy from the public and charge them with adrenaline. It will help him.
Would I be surprised to see him play and win? No, because with him, nothing surprises me anymore!
To win, as the person concerned himself claimed? Thomas Levet, the best Frenchman in history at Augusta (13th in 2005), whispers to us: “He comes back from very far. He knows the course by heart, but he still lacks competition.
A top 20 would already be a hell of a performance.” “If his body holds the shock, maybe he will do us the blow of 2019 again, advances on his side the living legend Nicklaus. He knows this journey inside out, and in 2019, once he was in a position to win, he remembered how we win here.”
In case of coronation, Woods would join this same Nicklaus in the legend of the Masters with six titles on the clock. According to former world number one Rory McIlroy, with Woods, the impossible is always possible: “Would I be surprised to see him play the win?
No, because with him, nothing surprises me anymore! His game is there. Tiger hits the ball very well. He has managed good chips and has a good swing speed. It remains to be seen how his physique will react to walking 72 holes here,” McIlroy anticipates. According to him, Woods will play four rounds, so he will at least cross the cut.
The Northern Irishman does not take too many risks. In 23 editions of the Masters, the Tiger had missed the cut only once when he was still an amateur in 1995…
Whether Woods wins or not, his reappearance on the courses is great news for American television. The richest sportsman on the planet, the first to have reached the billion dollars in earnings, should more than ever boost audiences. ESPN this Thursday and Friday, CBS Saturday and Sunday. And that’s already a certainty.