Woods is scheduled to go into the first round of the 2022 Masters in Augusta, Georgia, at 10:34 a.m. ET Thursday morning.
The 15-time main champ has been away from competitive golf for more than a year, after sustaining a serious leg injury in a car crash in February 2021.
“As of now, I feel like I’m going to play,” Woods said, ending weeks of speculation. As of now.
Woods, 46, was seen playing a few practice rounds at Augusta National, including Monday’s, sparking rumors of his return.
“I worked really hard,” Woods said. “My team has been amazing. I have been fortunate to have wonderful surgeons, doctors and physiologists who have worked with me almost every day. And we have worked hard to get to this point… It has been a tough, tough year.”
Woods is teamed up with Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Joaquin Neiman of Chile. They are scheduled to play Round Two at 1:41 p.m. ET on Friday.
His dramatic comeback comes 25 years after he won the 1997 Masters, the first of his 15 tournaments. Woods was only 21 years old when he changed the game – and his life – by becoming the first non-white golfer to win the sport’s most prestigious tournament.
“It’s hard to believe that 25 years have passed,” Woods said.
“It’s great to be back and to be able to feel the energy and excitement of the patrons again.”
“Very, very grateful,” Woods said when CNN’s Patrick Snell asked him what words he would choose to express the last 14 months.
“Thank you for just everyone’s support. Everyone involved in my work in my work every day. The people I work with, my entire team…All the support from the players here.”
Getting this far, he said, was a success in itself.
“Now it’s all about how to get myself into the position I’m in at ninth on Sunday with a chance” to win again, Woods added.
“When I decide to suspend it, when I feel like I can’t win anymore, that will be the case,” he said. “But I feel like I can still do it, and I feel like I still have my hands to do it, and the body moves well enough.”
“Everyone needs it”
One of his playing partners seemed certain of what would happen on Thursday.
“It’s not shocking because he’s the greatest player to ever play,” Fred Coples told reporters before Woods’ announcement.
“If he can walk around here in 72 holes, he’ll argue. He’s too good.”
2021 FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay says Woods’ return is golf’s “greatest.”
“It’s a good example of life not always perfect, so it’s really exciting to see it at its highest,” he told the media.
“So I hope he’s able to play well this week, and that’s obviously the greatest thing for our sport. There’s definitely a different feeling in the tournaments he’s in.”
In the car accident last year in Los Angeles, Woods suffered open comminuted fractures that affected his right bones and his fibula, the two long bones just below the knee.
The one who knows a thing or two about coming back from serious injuries is four-time winner Brooks Koepka.
The 31-year-old has had to put up with his share of injury concerns, and has lost quite a bit of time in recent years due to recovery from surgery and rehabilitation.
Koepka, who came to the 2022 Masters as one of the candidates for the green jacket, said he understood what Woods might be going through.
He told the media, “I was somewhat in place trying last year after two weeks of surgery. This place is not an easy walk.” “I understand what he’s up to. It’s going to be tough. But if anyone can do it, it’s him.”
Kupka added, “I’m glad he’s getting healthier and able to play golf… We need him, the game needs him, everyone needs him, the fans need him, all these things. But at the end of the day, everyone is just competing here. I’m worried about myself.” And I’m sure everyone is worried about themselves.”