'Miracle' Woods brings speed to Masters return
April 03, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods hits a driver during a practice round Tuesday at Augusta National. (Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Georgia – Tiger Woods was always told he was the chosen one but only now does he fully believe he’s a walking miracle.
Less than a year after back fusion surgery finally released him from years of pain - Woods is not only back at Augusta National for the first time since 2015 - he’s firmly in the mix to win.
That is according to all of his peers and the majority of pundits. Woods is the favorite in many circles.
“He's got a great chance. Look at how he's played the last few weeks. He's had four wins here. He's very comfortable around this golf course, and his game is right there,” Rory McIlroy said.
“Any time Tiger Woods is healthy and in this sort of form, he's dangerous at any golf tournament. But given his history here, I think even more so.”
In his last two starts on the PGA TOUR Woods was runner up and T5 – he felt the cauldron of contention in both.
But can he claim PGA TOUR win number 80 on the major championship stage? With his swing speed at near unbelievable levels … anything is possible.
It is easily the most amazing aspect of this version of his comeback - the force in which he’s been able to swing the club again.
Woods has the fastest recorded swing on TOUR this season at 129.2 miles per hour and his average club head speed of 121.9 miles per hour is fourth on TOUR.
It has some players joking with Woods that they need to go under the knife to fuse their own backs for more distance.
“The reason why I say I'm a walking miracle is that I don't know if anyone who has had a lower back fusion that can swing the club as fast as I can swing it,” Woods said.
“That's incredible. I went from a person who really had a hard time getting up, walking around, sitting down, anything, to now swinging the club 129. That is a miracle, isn't it?”
Woods admits he never expected this sort of result. He thought he’d have a nice comfortable life but was resigned to not being able to generate his old speeds.
A year ago he could barely sit at the Champions Dinner. He was trying cortisone shots, epidurals … but in his own words his back was fried.
“But all of a sudden I have this pop and my body and my speed's back and my timing. I'm hitting speeds that I hit in my prime,” he continued.
“That's what's the shocking thing, is I didn't think I would ever reach north of 120, and I'm cruising at 120.
“So that part is very exciting because I know that if I can maintain this, I can play out here for a very long time and be able to have the length to get around pretty much any of the golf courses.”
This week’s course has always been kind to Woods.
With wins in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005 and seven top-6 results in nine starts since his last triumph Augusta National is certainly a place he could rekindle the old magic and claim TOUR win number 80.
Woods likened the hype to that in 2001 when he came to the Masters with three straight major wins and in search of the famous “Tiger Slam”.
“I have four rounds to play, so let's just kind of slow down,” Woods smiled.
“I got to go play and then let the chips fall where they may, and hopefully I end up on top. But I got a lot of work to do between now and then.”