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Golf fans eager to see Tiger Woods play again

Tigermania returned to Augusta National Golf Course in full force today as a cagey Tiger Woods kept the golf world guessing on whether he will be in this week's Masters field.

Tiger Woods at the BMW Championship in 2020.

The Woods watch moved into overdrive as hordes of spectators flooded into Augusta National to catch a glimpse of the 15-time major winner who has kept fans in suspense, saying yesterday that his Masters participation will be a "game-time decision".

While Woods gave nothing away today, fans will not have to wait much longer to know his decision, with the 46-year-old scheduled to hold a news conference tomorrow, along with the publishing of the first round tee times.

After two years of Covid-19 restrictions that limited the number of spectators allowed onto the grounds, the galleries were back and so was the unmistakable Augusta National buzz - amplified by the sight of Woods working the manicured fairways.

The car crash that 14 months ago had threatened to take Woods' right leg and left him in hospital for three weeks and then confined to a hospital-type bed at home for three months seemed a distant misfortune on a picture perfect Monday.

Playing an afternoon practice alongside Fred Couples and good friend Justin Thomas, a relaxed Woods did not have the look of a man struggling to make a decision.

Rather, he had the self-assured air of someone who had made up his mind to be on the first tee come Thursday.

Woods has always maintained that he enters every event with the mindset to win it and his fellow golfers say not even coming back from a career threatening injury has changed that approach.

This year's Green Jacket contender, big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau said, "It seems likes he's in a really great frame of mind and he wants to win."

"Obviously he's determined to win. He wants to come back here and win. He's got a lot of players that have had a lot of time to kind of catch up, albeit Tiger is Tiger and you can never count him out."

Tiger Woods celebrates winning the 2019 Masters.
Tiger Woods wins the 2019 Masters Photo: PHOTOSPORT

If Woods does commit to play it would be his first official tournament since defending his title at the 2020 Masters, played in November due to Covid-19.

As delighted as Woods clearly is to be back playing, the excitement today was surpassed by the fans.

When Woods won the last of his five Green Jackets in 2019 there were no spectators allowed on the course.

Today they lined the entire length of the fairways and were packed 10 to 15 deep around the greens, a smiling Woods soaking up the attention as the cheers echoed through the Georgia pines.

"It's history," one fan screamed to another, as calls of "Go Tiger, Go Tiger" followed the former world number.

His fellow golfers are also not writing off Woods' participation or even him winning a sixth Green Jacket.

2013 Masters champion, Australian Adam Scott said, "I've learned long ago never doubt the guy. It's exciting that there's the possibility he's going to play this week."

"I really hope he does. I think no matter what it would just be epic."

- Reuters