Tiger Woods announced today that he will play the 2015 Masters.
After weeks of speculation, Woods said he will tee it up at Augusta National next week, his first tournament since withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open in early February. Woods subsequently skipped the Honda Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational, saying that he would only return when his game was tournament ready.
“I’m playing in the Masters,” Woods said in 45-word statement. “It’s obviously very important to me, and I want to be there. I’ve worked a lot on my game and I’m looking forward to competing. I’m excited to get to Augusta and I appreciate everyone’s support.”
Tiger Watch was in full effect leading up to his decision. His plane was spotted at the local Augusta airport on Tuesday in advance of his practice round at Augusta National. Reports of his play trickled out days later, one stating that Woods shot a 74 with several birdies and some poor chipping. Woods was back at Augusta on Friday morning for more practice.
Woods, who sat out the 2014 Masters due to back surgery, has dominated the Masters like no other player since Jack Nicklaus. In 19 career events, Woods has four victories, two runner-ups and seven top-5 finishes, including a period from 2001-05 when Woods won three out of five Masters. In his third appearance at Augusta in 1997, Woods dominated the field, posting an 18-under final mark en route to a 12-stroke victory and his first career major title.
Nicklaus is the only player with more green jackets (six) hanging in his closet. Woods and Arnold Palmer own four each, and only eight players all-time have more than two Masters victories.
Two weeks ago, Notah Begay said Woods was getting better each day. At the beginning of March, he estimated there was a 1-in-10 chance of seeing Tiger at Augusta, but Woods spent the month slowly attempting to repair his game.
He said he wouldn’t come back until he was ready, sparking questions about his health and his motivation. We finally have an answer.