AUGUSTA, Ga. – As the buzz created by the Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals subsided and gave way to the normal Sunday-before calm at Augusta National, the conversation again turned to Tiger Woods.
Woods has not played a PGA Tour event since he withdrew on Day 1 from the Farmers Insurance Open. Speculation built about a potential return last week as he made two scouting trips to Augusta National before finally announcing on his website Friday that he was “playing in the Masters.”
Since then, the speculation has turned from whether he'll play to what to expect from the four-time Masters champion.
“If it was me I would have liked to have tested it and get some rust off,” Nick Faldo said before heading out for a practice round with his son on Sunday. “We’re all waiting with bated breath. I assume we’ll see a different swing.”
In just two starts this year, Woods missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a week that included a second-round 82, and withdrew after 11 holes with a tight back at Torrey Pines.
Beyond his often-injured back, however, Woods has also struggled around the greens since last year’s Hero World Challenge, which is why many have questioned why he would make his return at Augusta National.
“You’re not coming here out of curiosity,” Faldo said. “It’s the toughest chipping but you’re chipping off perfect lies. It’s all nerve.”
Others posited that the Masters was the perfect place for Woods’ return, citing his familiarity with the golf course and a history that includes just one missed cut in 19 starts.
“I’m sure he wanted to play here really badly and I’m sure that’s part of the decision,” Ben Crenshaw said.