Masters 2023: Tiger Woods accepts mobility issues: 'I'm very lucky to have this leg'

Tiger Woods rides in a golf cart during practice for the Masters. (Andrew Redington / Getty Images)

Tiger Woods is four years removed from his fifth Masters win and the daylight is fading on his glorious career. He doesn’t pretend otherwise.

As he said more than once Tuesday, the buggy — a golf cart — awaits, especially in the wake of a rollover car accident in 2021 that could have cost him his life and certainly his leg.

“Yeah, mobility, it’s not where I would like it but … I’m very lucky to have this leg; it’s mine,” said Woods, 47, speaking to reporters at his regular pre-tournament news conference. “Yes, it has been altered and there’s some hardware in there, but it’s still mine.”

That adds a degree of difficulty for him at the Masters, where the terrain is far hillier than it looks on TV, and the fickle weather can play a role in hastening the fatigue.

“Oh, yeah, I’ve seen it,” he said with mild exasperation when asked about this week’s forecast, which range from hot and humid to cloudy and breezy to Saturday’s 90% chance of rain.

Woods is an extreme long shot to win his sixth Masters — a $10 bet on him would pay $670 — but he always will be a factor in the event because he attracts a far larger gallery than anyone else, and it isn’t close.

He was 13 over par last year and finished 47th, which was impressive considering it was a year after the accident.

“I think my game is better than it was last year at this particular time,” he said. “I think my endurance is better. But it aches a little bit more than it did last year, because when I came back I really had not pushed it that often.”

Woods played in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in February, an event he hosts, and subsequently took time off to prepare for the Masters.

Tiger Woods hits from the first tee during a practice for the Masters golf tournament.
Tiger Woods still draws huge crowds, even in practice rounds, as he hits from the first tee during a practice for the Masters golf tournament. (Mark Baker / Associated Press)

“I have to be cognizant of how much I can push it …” he said. “I can hit a lot of shots, but the difficulty for me is going to be the walking going forward.”

When Woods won the Masters in 2019, it wasn’t totally out of the blue. There was some buildup in the form of winning the Tour Championship in 2018 and finishing second at the PGA Championship that same year.

That’s not the case now, as he withdrew after three rounds of last year’s PGA and didn’t make the cut at the British Open. But the way he sees it, he has hope at Augusta National because of his deep understanding of the course.

“I’ve been able to re-create a lot of the chip shots at home in my backyard, or I’m at Medalist [his country club in Florida]) hitting balls off the side of lies, trying to simulate shots and rehearsing again and again every flag location, each and every shot I would possibly hit.”

He said he hasn’t slept well lately — not unusual for him — and finds himself rehearsing all sorts of shots at Augusta in his head.

“I don’t have the physical tournaments under my belt,” he said. “I haven’t played that much, no. But if there’s any one golf course that I can come back, like I did last year, it’s here. Just because I know the golf course.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.