Tiger Woods made his comeback just over two weeks ago at the ‘knock around’ Hero World Challenge, but world-number-three Justin Thomas is already backing the 14-time major champion to challenge at the Masters in April.
With injury crises aplenty, Woods has made just four starts, and managed just 11 rounds, in 28 months, but Thomas refers to the importance of experience at Augusta to suggest Woods might surprise a few people.
“If he’s healthy, there’s no reason he wouldn’t [compete],” Thomas said.Embed from Getty Images
“There’s a reason Freddie [Couples] played so well there for so long and [Bernhard] Langer. It’s such an advantage knowing the course and the more you play, the world of difference it makes.”
Couples has managed six top 20s in seven of his last Masters starts and Langer cropped up in tied eighth back in 2014, despite both players being well into their 50s.
Before his comeback, Woods underwent his fourth back surgery, a commonly thought of ‘last resort’ back fusion, and so the challenge for the soon-to-be 42-year-old is just as much making it to the first tee of every event.
“If he plays healthy, I think he’ll have a great year,” Thomas added.
“It’s hard to not hype it up or talk about this or that but in reality we need to see what happens because no one knows.
“He was just so happy [at the Hero World Challenge], which was cool to see.
“I’ve spent some time with him the last couple of years and I’ve never seen him so happy, having so much fun, grinding it out and playing well.”
Thomas, who won five times on the PGA Tour in 2016-17, played the final round alongside Woods at the Hero World Challenge and got as good a look as any at his game. And he is backing Woods, with confidence.