Billy Payne Suspects Tiger Woods Will Return to Golf Soon

April 6, 2016
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Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Billy Payne says he thinks we’ll see Tiger Woods back on Tour “fairly quickly.”

Speaking to the media during a pre-Masters conference on Wednesday, Payne told reporters he himself was recovering from a major back surgery he underwent in November. The man at the helm of Augusta National said it was frustrating to not be able to play golf, but with rehab, he hopes to pick up his clubs by mid-June.

“Unfortunately, we’re closed then,” Payne said, which drew laughter from the media. “We may, however, open it up for one day. But I’m really looking forward to it.”

As for a timeline for his return, however, Payne thinks Woods has his number. The 14-time major champ, who is missing the Masters for just the second time in his professional career, was in attendance at the Champions Dinner hosted in honor of defending champion Jordan Spieth. Payne told the crowd that Woods looked better than Payne did at the event and guesses Woods will return to professional golf sooner than later.

“I was delighted,” Payne said of witnessing Woods’ condition. “You know, he’s encouraged. I could tell the fire is building back up in his belly, and I suspect Tiger’s going to be back fairly quickly, and I’m looking forward to it.”