Two days from now and less than a year after undergoing major back surgery, Tiger Woods will be teeing off at the Masters. Since this is the type of thing that tends to bring casual interest to the sport, there's a narrative being built around his comeback, as well as the fact that he's one of this weekend's favorites to win.
In a press conference the now 42-year-old talked about his surgery, his comeback, and his prospects for winning the Masters for the first time since 2005.
He reiterated his phrase that he's a "walking miracle" for his ability to whip his club around like a toothpick following back fusion surgery, which he underwent last April 20 in his fourth major back surgery since 2014.
"The reason why I say I’m a walking miracle is that I don’t know of anyone who has had a lower back fusion that can swing the club as fast as I can swing it," he said according to The Guardian. "That’s incredible. Some guys have said [jokingly]: ‘Yeah, I need to fuse my back so I can hit it harder.’ No, you don’t want to go through that.
“That’s why I say that. It is a miracle. I went from a person who really had a hard time getting up, walking around, sitting down, anything, to now swinging the club at 129 mph. That is a miracle, isn’t it?”
Despite how bad that fusion must have hurt/sucked, Woods maintained perspective and said that his comeback pales in comparison to Ben Hogan's 1949 return from getting into a freakin' head-on collision with a Greyhound bus.
"As far as greatest comebacks [go], I think that one of the greatest comebacks in all of sport is the gentleman who won here, Mr Hogan," Woods reportedly said. "I mean, he got hit by a bus and came back and won major championships. The pain he had to endure, the things he had to do just to play, the wrapping of the leg, all the hot tubs and just how hard it was for him to walk—walk, period. He ended up walking 36 holes and winning a U.S. Open [the next year]. That’s one of the greatest comebacks there is and it happens to be in our sport."
Finally, in addition to those statements, Woods also did his best to lower the bar for this weekend's tournament, which I promise you will fall on deaf media ears if he's on the leaderboard at all by Friday or later.
"I have four rounds to play, so let’s just kind of slow down," he said. "I’ve had anticipation like this prior. If you remember the buildup was from the U.S. PGA Championship of 2000 to the Masters of 2001, nine months of building up, what that tournament would mean. And it’s the same thing. I have got to go play and then let the chips fall where they may. Hopefully I end up on top but I have got a lot of work to do between now and then.
“I’ve played well over the years, I’ve won here a few times, but all those years that I’ve won, one part of my game has certainly stood out. Whether it’s driving the ball like I did in 1997 and putting it a couple years where I really putted well or hitting my irons and hitting a lot of greens, but not only missing, missing in the correct spots every single time, there’s got to be a certain part of my game that’s got to be on, and hopefully this will be one of those weeks. I don’t think there’s one clear-cut favorite. I think there’s so many guys playing well at the same time. I think that’s what is making this year’s Masters so exciting.”
Woods tees off just prior to 11 a.m. on Thursday.