Tiger Woods paired with Louis Oosthuizen in Masters opening rounds

Woods said on Tuesday that he plans to play in the 86th Masters, making a epic return only 14 months after suffering severe right leg injuries in an automobile accident.

The 15-time major champion will tee off in his 24th Masters appearance at 16:34 (SA time) on Thursday in the 14th of 31 groups and tee off Friday at 19:41 (SA time) in the third-to-last group of the day.

Woods was hospitalised for weeks and unable to walk for months after a car crash in February 2021. He later said he was lucky to have survived and to have escaped with both of his legs.

Tiger Woods is seeking a sixth green jacket

Walking the course will be the major issue for 46-year-old Woods, who seeks a sixth Masters green jacket to match the record set by Jack Nicklaus.

Oosthuizen, 39, was the 2012 Masters runner-up and last year finished second at the US Open and PGA Championship and third at The Open.

Niemann, 23, won his second PGA title in February at the tournament hosted by Woods at Riviera in Los Angeles.

The group in front of the Woods trio, off at 16:23 (SA time) on Thursday, will include Australia’s sixth-ranked Cameron Smith, 2020 US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau and England’s Paul Casey.

Just behind Woods and his playing partners, with a 16:45 (SA time) on Thursday start, will be defending champion Hideki Matsuyama, reigning US Amateur champion James Piot and 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas.

Two groups behind Woods, in what will be Friday’s final trio on the course, are world number one Scottie Scheffler, fellow American Tony Finau and Australia’s Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion.

Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner from Northern Ireland, will try to complete a career Grand Slam with a Masters victory. He tees off in Thursday’s final group at 20:03 (SA time) alongside four-time major winner Brooks Koepka and England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick.

The US trio of Dustin Johnson, reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa and Billy Horschel tee off at 19:30 (SA time) on Thursday followed 11 minutes later by Spain’s Jon Rahm, the reigning US Open champion, and Americans Will Zalatoris and Patrick Cantlay.

Just behind them, and just ahead of McIlroy’s group, will be Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and Norway’s Viktor Hovland.

By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse

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