The wait is over. Tiger Woods has declared his right leg has passed the fitness test and will tee it up in Thursday’s first round of the 86th Masters.
And not only will he play, he believes he can win it and achieve one of sport’s greatest comebacks, a resurrection that would make his remarkable victory here in 2019 – his first major title in 11 years – seem almost mundane.
Of course, with Woods there is always a caveat – he does love the drama – and predictably he did leave room for at least a sliver of doubt. “As of right now I feel I am going to play,” Woods said at his eagerly awaited press conference.
But at a Masters consumed by Tigermania everyone seemed interested in were the words “I am going to play”. At 3.34pm BST, Woods will go out with South African Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquin Niemann. The young Chilean will think he has joined a mad circus.
Fourteen months after a car crash that almost cost him his limb, the 46-year-old will, barring an adverse reaction to his exertions here these last few days, return to competition.
“I’m going to play nine more holes [on Wednesday],” Woods added. “My recovery had been good. I’ve been very excited about how I’ve recovered each and every. That’s why I came up here to test it out for 27 holes.”
Woods revealed that he is in pain “each and every day” but he is adamant that he can play through it and challenge for a record-equalling sixth green jacket. “I do – I can hit it just fine,” he said. “I don’t have any qualifications about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint. Walking is the hard part. This course is not an easy walk to begin with. Now givemn the condition my left leg is in it is more difficult. It’s going to be a tough challenge, but a challenge that I’m up for.”
That’s all folks
On that note, we’ll end our coverage but stay with Telegraph Sport for more reaction to Woods’ return to golf.
And join us every day from the Masters for live coverage.
Groupings and starting times for the first round
Woods will tee off at 3.34pm BST with 2010 Masters champion Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquin Niemann.
Rory McIlroy is in the last group with Brooks Koepka and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Woods opens up on his decision to change to FootJoy shoes
I have very limited mobility now, with the rods and plates and screws that are in my leg. I needed something different and something that allowed me to be more stable.
Nike has been fantastic over the years and we’ve been working on finding me something that will allow me to swing again.
When asked for one word to describe how he feels about the last 14 months, Woods said…
Thankful. Very grateful.
To everyone that’s been involved in the process of the work I put in each and every day. All the support from players. We’re a big brotherhood. The amount of texts and calls I received have meant a lot.
More from Woods
We’ve worked hard to get to this point. It’s been a tough tough year. A lot of stuff to deal with.
Woods makes clear he’s come to Augusta to win
I love competing and I feel like if I can still compete at the highest level, I’m going to.
And if I feel can still win, I’m going to play. But if I feel like I can’t, then you won’t see me out here.
You guys know me better than that. I don’t show up to an event unless I think I can win it. That’s the attitude I’ve had.
There’ll be a day when it won’t happen and I’ll know when that is.
More from Woods
My recovery has been good. I’ve been very excited about how I have recovered each and every day and that’s been the challenge. That’s why I came here and played 27 holes [last week].
My team has been fantastic and worked very hard.
Fitness remains an issue for Woods
I can hit it just fine. I don’t have any qualifications about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint.
Walking’s the hard part. This is normally not an easy walk to begin with. Now given the condition my leg is in it gets a little more difficult.
72 holes is a long road and it’s going to be a tough challenge and a challenge that I’m up for.
Ominous for the rest of the field
More from Woods
I’m going to play nine more holes tomorrow. My recovery has been good. I’ve been very excited about how I’ve recovered each and every day.
BREAKING: Woods set to play in the Masters
As of right now, I feel like I am going to play.
Some very good choices by Hideki
Sounds like Woods is good to go for Thursday
Very accurate from Woods
I wouldn’t be surprised [if Tiger Woods contends]. I’ve spent a little bit of time with him at home, and the golf is there. He’s hitting it well. He’s chipping well. He’s sharp. It’s just the physical demand of getting around 72 holes here this week.
That’s probably the question mark. But the golf game is there. So, would I be surprised? No, I’m not surprised at anything he does anymore.
You can get 45-1 on a Woods victory on Sunday from one bookmaker.
Jon Rahm is the 10-1 favourite…
Getting dialed in…
At this point, it would be a huge shock if Woods didn’t play
Hello and welcome
To our live coverage of Tiger Woods’ press conference from Augusta, with the five-time Masters poised to announce whether or not he will be making a remarkable comeback at this year’s tournament.
Hordes of spectators have flooded into Augusta National to catch a glimpse of the 15-time major winner practicing – and he said on Sunday that his Masters participation will be a “game-time decision”.
The car crash that 14 months ago had threatened to take Woods’ right leg and left him in hospital for three weeks and then confined to a hospital-type bed at home for three months seemed a distant misfortune on Monday.
Woods has always maintained that he enters every event with the mindset to win it and his fellow golfers say not even coming back from a career threatening injury has changed that approach.
“It seems likes he’s in a really great frame of mind and he wants to win,” said big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau, a Green Jacket contender again this year.
“Obviously he’s determined to win. He wants to come back here and win. He’s got a lot of players that have had a lot of time to kind of catch up, albeit Tiger is Tiger and you can never count him out.”
If Woods does commit to play it would be his first official tournament since defending his title at the 2020 Masters, played in November due to Covid-19.
As delighted as Woods clearly is to be back playing, the excitement on Monday was surpassed by the fans.
Woods won the last of his five Green Jackets in 2019.
On Monday they lined the entire length of the fairways and were packed 10 to 15 deep around the greens, a smiling Woods soaking up the attention as the cheers echoed through the Georgia pines.
“It’s history,” one fan screamed to another, as calls of “Go Tiger, Go Tiger” followed the former world number.
His fellow golfers are also not writing off Woods’ participation or even him winning a sixth Green Jacket.
“I’ve learned long ago never doubt the guy,” said Australian Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion. “It’s exciting that there’s the possibility he’s going to play this week.
“I really hope he does. I think no matter what it would just be epic.” Reuters