June 21, 2024
Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods played a round at Augusta on Saturday with club chairman Fred Ridley and two-time major winner Justin Thomas

Tiger Woods is almost certain to appear in The Masters in less than two weeks’ time after playing a practice round at Augusta at the weekend.

Although the official starting lists have long included the five-time champion, that is standard practice for any golfer who is exempt and has not already scratched.

And after Woods withdrew during the second round of the LA Open in February – his first official event in 10 months – there were inevitable doubts that the 48-year-old would tee it up in the season’s first major, as he continues to recover from the 2021 car crash that so almost cost the American his right leg.

Tiger Woods
Woods withdrew during the second round of the LA Open earlier this year

But his presence at the Georgia gem in a prep outing signals that he is ready to return to the competition where he announced his genius at large at age 21, with a 12-stroke win 27 years ago. That was an iconic success, but, remarkably, was perhaps even eclipsed for incredulity by his comeback victory at the Masters in 2019, following a spinal fusion.

Tiger Woods’s catastrophic injuries since have placed his competitiveness in question. He has played in only five events since his surgery in 2021. Woods made the cut at last year’s Masters, but was forced to retire during the third round.

Reports in America revealed that Woods played on Saturday with Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley and Ryder Cup teammate Justin Thomas. If Woods does play and proceeds to make the cut, he would do so for the 25th time and thus break the record, leaving behind Gary Player and Fred Couples. Woods has only missed the cut once, in 1996, the year before he turned professional.

On the DP World Tour, Keita Nakajima claimed his first victory at the Hero Indian Open. The Japanese player is one of the rising stars of the game, winning the Japan Golf Tour order of merit in his first full season as a professional having spent a record 87 weeks at the top of the amateur rankings.

After claiming four victories in his homeland, he now has one in just his 11th appearance on the DP World Tour despite dropping four shots in his final five holes in New Delhi. The 23-year-old started the day four shots ahead and essentially had the title sewn up by the turn, opening up a nine-shot advantage after turning in 33.

Tiger Woods
Keita Nakajima earend a debut DP World Tour win at the Indian Open

That gave him enough breathing room for his late stumble and his closing 73 saw him finish at 17 under and win by four shots from India’s Veer Ahlawat, Swede Sebastian Soderberg and American Johannes Veerman.

Nakajima made his professional debut with a tie for 12th at the 2022 Zozo Championship on the PGA Tour and he is now aiming to claim one of the 10 cards available on the US circuit via the Race to Dubai order of merit, having climbed to 13th in the rankings with his win.

“I want to try and finish in the top 10 on this tour and then go to the PGA Tour in 2025,” he said. “This is my first year playing on the DP World Tour and I’m very proud to have won here.”

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