Just being able to play at the Masters feels like a victory to Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods admitted just being able to play the Masters felt like a victory as he enjoyed the “electric” atmosphere generated by his return to Augusta National.

Woods carded an opening 71 to lie just three shots off the clubhouse lead held by Australian Cameron Smith, who is seeking to join Woods as the only players to win the Masters and Players Championship in the same year.

Asked if being able to compete was the equivalent to a victory after he suffered severe leg injuries in a car accident 14 months ago, Woods said: “Yes.”

Tiger Woods
The vehicle driven by Tiger Woods when he crashed in Los Angeles on February 23, 2021 (Keiran Southern/PA)

Pressed as to why, the 46-year-old added: “If you would have seen how my leg looked to where it’s at now, the pictures… some of the guys (fellow players) know.

“They’ve seen the pictures and they’ve come over to the house and they’ve seen it. To see where I’ve been, to get from there to here, it was no easy task.

“I’m very lucky to have this opportunity to be able to play, and not only that, to play in the Masters and to have this type of reception.

“I mean, the place was electric. I hadn’t played like this since ’19 when I won because in ’20 we had Covid and we had no one here, and I didn’t play last year. So to have the patrons fully out and to have that type of energy out there was awesome to feel.”

Tiger Woods
Woods pumps his fist after a birdie putt on the 16th green (David J. Phillip/AP)

Woods spent three months in a hospital bed following the single-vehicle accident on February 23 last year, when he was found to have been driving at almost twice the legal speed limit and hit a tree at approximately 75mph.

“People have no idea how hard it’s been,” he added.

“My team does. They’ve worked with me every single day. We haven’t taken a day off since I got out of the bed after those three months.

“Granted, some days are easier than others. Some days we push it pretty hard, and other days we don’t, but always doing something.”

Asked how he would recover for Friday’s second round, Woods added: “Lots of treatments. Lots of ice baths. Just basically freezing myself to death.”

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