Tiger Woods still believes he has advantage at Masters despite broken-down body

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Sometimes Tiger Woods sounds like an old man from Palm Beach.

“I hurt every day,” he said here at the Masters on Tuesday. “I ache … I ache every day.”

What about the ankle?

“The ankle doesn't hurt anymore,” Woods said. “It's fused. It's not going anywhere. So that's fine. It's other parts of my body that now have to take the brunt of it. So, yeah, once [the doctor] put the rods in there, it's good to go. But, the back, the knee, other parts of the body have to take the load of it, and just the endurance capability of walking a long time and being on my feet for a long time.”

Other times Tiger Woods sounds like a young man from Cypress, California, or maybe Stanford, who used to sleep in the Crow’s Nest and rolled down Magnolia Lane confident he was going to dominate.

“Let me focus on getting through this week and hopefully getting another jacket,” he said.

Has he considered being a ceremonial starter one day, he was asked?

“No, no,” he said, cutting off the premise. “... I still think [his game] can [come together to win].”

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 09: Tiger Woods of the United States reacts on the eighth hole during a practice round prior to the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 09, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods has +3500 odds to win the Masters this weekend, according to BetMGM. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

By all reasonable considerations, Tiger Woods should be counted out in this event. Then again, he should have been counted out in 2019 and he won it anyway, earning a fifth green jacket. Banged up, bruised up, just “old” and tired at age 48, there is little reason to think he can contend.

He talks about how long the walk is here or how outside of the tee box there is never a level stance.

Except then his face is lit up thinking about the advantages he has in this major, the one where experience with the familiar course matters most. Maybe it buys one more putt here, one more favorable approach there.

“It's an understanding of how to play this golf course,” Tiger said. “That's one of the reasons why you see players that are in their 50s and 60s make cuts here, or players in their late-40s have runs at winning the event, just the understanding of how to play it.

“Now, you still have to go out and execute it, but there's a lot of knowledge that goes into understanding how to play it …” he continued. “That's the neat thing about this. I can still go through the mental Rolodex and bring out a few putts from the '90s that still move generally in that direction and the effect that Rae's Creek has on certain shots and putts. And it means a lot.”

Woods will start by aiming for a record 24th consecutive cut here. If he’s still in it, then it’s on. If he’s not, well, he’ll still draw the largest gallery and the most cheers.

For Tiger being here is enough, even if he sometimes refuses to admit it.

“Some days I just feel really good,” he said. “And other days, not so much.”