Golf-Woods’ return at Masters would be ‘phenomenal’, says McIlroy

FILE PHOTO: Thankful Woods enters Hall of Fame: 'I didn't get here alone'
FILE PHOTO: Dec 19, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Tiger Woods reacting to Cameron Kuchar draining a long putt on the 17th green during the final round of the PNC Championship golf tournament at Grande Lakes Orlando Course. Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

March 30, 2022

(Reuters) – Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday it would be “phenomenal” to have Tiger Woods return to competition at next week’s Masters, adding that the game of golf is better whenever the 15-times major champion is playing.

McIlroy, speaking to reporters at TPC San Antonio ahead of this week’s Valero Texas Open, was asked what Woods’ potential participation in the April 7-10 Masters would do for the build-up to the year’s first major.

“For golf and for the Masters tournament and for everyone, to have Tiger there would be phenomenal. I think it just adds to the event. Obviously, it does,” said McIlroy.

“Anything Tiger Woods does in the game of golf is heightened whenever he’s there. I mean, it would be awesome for him to be there.”

Woods, who has been recovering from career-threatening leg injuries suffered in a February 2021 car crash, was at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday where he reportedly played the entire course.

As per tournament protocol, Woods’ name will remain on the list of competitors that appear on the Masters website unless the five-times champion notifies Augusta National that he will not compete.

“The sheer will and perseverance, yeah, it is incredible. If he comes back from this again, it’s just, he likes to prove people wrong, he likes to prove himself wrong, I think,” said McIlroy.

“Regardless of when he does come back, whether it’s next week or a few weeks, few months down the line, he’s a wonderful addition to the game and the game of golf is better when he’s playing and when he’s playing well.”

McIlroy, who next week will try to complete the career Grand Slam of winning golf’s four major championships, spent the last two days at Augusta National.

The 32-year-old Northern Irishman said he wanted to get a head start on preparations, especially since Augusta National has made some course changes since last year’s Masters.

“I just wanted to go there and just see that for myself and sort of do a little bit of a scouting trip that I haven’t really done the last couple years. That’s a little different maybe,” said McIlroy.

“But it was good to be there, good to see the place… I don’t feel like there’s a rush to get there next week and cram and prepare. I feel like I’ve already done most of my work, which is a nice feeling.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)