Tiger says patrons inspired him as much as he inspired them
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Tiger Woods walked up the 18th fairway, removed his cap and acknowledged roars from the patrons at Augusta National.
He wasn’t even close to winning the Masters. And it didn’t matter.
Woods shot a 6-over round of 78 on Sunday in the final round. He finished at 13 over for the week, his total of 301 by far his worst at the Masters and one shot off his worst 72-hole score ever as a professional.
None of the numbers seemed that significant.
This was Woods’ comeback tournament that came just over a year after the car crash that nearly cost him his right leg, or worse. He said coming into the Masters that just getting back was an accomplishment.
Woods was limping throughout his final round, and the limp seemed much worse Sunday than it was earlier in the Masters.
But there was also a swagger that many of us thought we might never see again.
Throughout the tournament, large numbers of people followed him everywhere.
“Thank you, Tiger,” and “You’re an inspiration,” patrons yelled from behind the ropes.
The exclamations are an inspiration to Woods, too.
“It was an unbelievable feeling,” he said after finishing the round. “Just to have the patrons and the support out there. I wasn’t exactly playing my best out there, but just to have the support out there and the appreciation from all the fans.”
He said pre-COVID and pre-accident 2019 was the last time he was able to hear roars like he did this time around.
“It’s exciting. It’s inspiring. It’s fun to hear the roars, to hear the hole-in-ones. ... just to hear that excitement of what this tournament brings out.”
He’s glad he played.
“I don’t think words can really describe that given where I was a little over a year ago and what my prospects were at that time to end up here and be able to play in all four rounds. Even a month ago, I didn’t know if I could pull this off,” he said.
“I think it was a positive, and I’ve got some work to do and looking forward to it.”
It’s not easy for him.
“I have those days where I just don’t want to do anything,’ he said.
“It’s those days that are tough. The days I feel good are — those are easy days, but there have been more tough days than easy days. I just have to work through it, and like golf, in order to get better, you just have to go out there and put in the time.”
Win or lose, the Masters will always have a special place in Woods’ heart.
“The year I was born was the year that the first black man played in the Masters in Lee Elder. He was an honorary starter last year. He was there when I won in ‘97. Twenty-five years later, here I am playing again,” Woods said.
“This is where all the great champions have ever played. They have walked these grounds. Granted, I don’t think they’ve imaged walking back as far as we have, like on 11. I think when Bobby Jones originally designed it, it was supposed to be like a links golf course inland where you go from green to tee. But the game has changed, it’s gotten bigger, and there’s more walk-backs than ever before.”
He’s considering it a win just to make it through the Masters after what he’s been through.
“To go from where I was to get to this point, I’ve had an incredible team that has helped me get to this point and incredible support.”
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