Golf-All eyes on Woods before Masters focus on eclipse

By Thomson Reuters Apr 8, 2024 | 2:36 PM

By Steve Keating

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Tiger Woods was getting nearly as much attention as the solar eclipse at Augusta National on Monday as golf fans looked for signs that the five-times Masters champion could perhaps make a run at another Green Jacket.

A sixth Masters title would seem far fetched for the injury ravaged 48-year-old but a record 24 consecutive made cut at Augusta National could be within reach despite Woods making a single PGA Tour start this year that lasted just 24 holes.

The 15-times major winner has never missed a Masters cut as a professional and this week is seeking a tournament record for made cuts after tying Gary Player and Fred Couples last year.

Woods began his final preparations for Thursday’s opening round by playing nine holes under sunny skies with Will Zalatoris, who is making his return to Augusta National after being forced out of last year’s major with a back injury.

“He (Woods) played great today,” said Zalatoris. “He out drove me a couple of times so there was some chirping going on.

“He looks great. He’s moving as well as he can be.

“Again, with everything he’s gone through, it’s pretty amazing to see how good he’s swinging it.”

Woods and Zalatoris got their work done before the solar eclipse cast a shadow over the famed layout later in the afternoon, forcing the lights on at the driving range.

Wearing specially branded Masters glasses, spectators turned their attention from golf’s stars to the heavens to catch a glimpse of the eclipse before getting back to the practice rounds.


Woods has made a career of defying the odds as he did in the 2019 when he returned from spinal fusion surgery to win a fifth Masters.

He made another miraculous return in 2022, coming back from a near fatal car crash that almost resulted in the amputation of his right leg to keep his run of Masters made cuts alive.

Woods and Zalatoris bonded over a shared experience with both having undergone a microdiscectomy, a surgical procedure to relieve back pain caused by a herniated disc on the spine.

Zalatoris declared himself fit and ready to pick up where he left off before the injury, finishing second in three of his last eight majors, including at the 2021 Masters.

“It’s kind of more of just hey, how you feeling? You feel this? You feel that?,” said Zalatoris about the conversations he has had with Woods. “The patience game is really hard.

“Obviously he had gone through way more than I’d gone through.

“Having the same surgeons, kind of the same team, just having the conversation I guess about, hey, after this amount of time how do you feel?

“It’s been more the thought-provoking questions that he’s given to me that has really been the stuff that’s kind of got me back to where I am now.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Augusta; Editing by Ken Ferris)