AUGUSTA, Ga. — The last time the Masters was held in April, Tiger Woods pulled off an improbable and emotional career comeback to win the 2019 tournament for his fifth green jacket.
But Woods, recovering from a February car crash, isn’t here this week and there are serious doubts about whether he’ll ever be able to play competitive golf again.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released details of Wood’s crash Wednesday, saying the golfer was speeding at more than 82 mph in a 45-mph zone, and instead of braking was actually accelerating when he lost control of his vehicle near Rancho Palos Verdes.
Police are not sure whether he was conscious at the time of the crash, in which Woods suffered several injuries, including multiple fractures to his right leg.
In recent weeks, some fellow golfers have visited him as he recovers at his home in Florida.
“I went over and saw him,” Rory McIlroy said. “Spent a couple hours with him, which was nice. It was good to see him. It was good to see him in decent spirits and actually not as, you know — like when you hear of these things and you look at the car and you see the crash, you think he’s going to be in a hospital bed for six months. But he was actually doing better than that.”
Justin Thomas said he particularly misses playing practice rounds with Woods.
“I went over and saw him a couple times last week and try to go over a couple times during the week whenever I’m home and see him,” Thomas said. “We texted Friday morning, and he said it’s kind of starting to set in. He’s bummed he’s not here playing practice rounds with us, and we hate it, too.”
Although he was the last to win the storied tournament in April, Woods isn’t the defending champion. That honor belongs to Dustin Johnson, who won the event that was postponed until November because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
McIlroy, for one, hasn’t ruled out another Woods comeback.
“Any time Tiger Woods tees it up in a golf tournament, it’s better,” he said. “It’s better for the tournament. It’s better for the players that are involved. It’s better for everyone.
“Unfortunately, he’s not here this year. You know, hopefully, if his recovery goes well, who knows, he could be back in 12 months’ time. But yeah, he’s always missed when he doesn’t play in these big events, and, you know, that doesn’t change this week, whether it’s to do with his back or his leg or whatever it is. I know he’s at home and he’s fully focused on the recovery process, and I feel like he’s mentally strong enough to get through that. And once he does, broken bones heal, and he’s just got to take it step by step.
“I know he’d love to be here, and I’m sure he’s going to put everything he has into trying to be ready to play here next year.”