Tiger Woods has already won The Masters even though he likely won't win tournament


Tiger Woods at Masters 2009/Photo: Me

Let's get this out of the way--no, Tiger Woods will not win the Masters in 2022. Though to be perfectly honest, making it through four rounds at Augusta National would be a HUGE victory for him.


Unless you are living under a rock, you've heard the news this week: The most popular name in golf over the past three decades is back at a golf tournament often called "Tiger's Playground". After being on the sidelines for well over a year after nearly losing a leg in a horrible Los Angeles crash, Woods announced on Tuesday he's going to give this years Masters a go.


Yes, he won the tournament in 2019 after doing largely nothing over the previous five years other than make headlines for some not-so-great reasons, but don't expect the magic to happen again.


Why so negative?


I'm not being negative, I'm being realistic. The reason I say him playing is a win is because of the attention it will draw. Woods is arguably the only golfer alive who can still draw large amounts of casual golf fans. Yeah, sure, the Masters always is the highest rated tournament during golf season, but I'll bet you an egg salad sandwich that the ratings on the days he plays will be well over last years numbers.


I'm also happy to see the guy just able to try playing in a professional tournament these days. Sheesh, between the back injuries and knee injuries and the crash, it was easy to argue Tiger Woods was physically unable to play golf anymore.


It would be like Michael Jordan being unable to shoot a basketball or Tom Brady unable to throw a pass.


Something you should know---and I speak from experience--playing Augusta National is arguably one of the most physically demanding tournaments a doctor will ever play in.


What you see on TV in no way, shape or form shows just how hill covered and heavy the course is to walk. Almost every single one of the 18 holes drops sharply downhill or is a steep walk up. And if you don't think it's that hard to walk the course---try walking 3-4 miles up and down a nearly 500 foot change in elevation multiple times for five hours and no real chance to get off of your feet.


Sure, for a 25-year old in peak physical condition it's not the hardest thing they'll ever do. Now imagine doing it at Tiger's age with his lengthy injury list.


I covered the tournament for 10 years (1999-2009) and walked parts of the course during practice rounds carrying my tv camera, tripod and accessories. It was the hardest, physical work I did each year.


Once the tournament officially starts on Thursday--the local media was not allowed to shoot on the course. Every year on Sunday morning (the final round), my reporter Mark Harmon and I would get to the course around 11 a.m. and walk the course before the leaders got started and we had to get to work.


It took most of the afternoon to catch our breath.


I got to play the course one time. It was a blast and yes, I shot a very high number. We used carts to play. The pros don't get to do that.


I have no doubt that Tiger will play on Thursday and Friday and try his hardest to make the cut. I really hope he does because it will bring a different buzz than normal to an already noisy event.


It won't matter who is in the lead group on those two days, the buzz and echos of crowds applauding and often roaring at the play of those in the lead will resound through the hills of Augusta. It's hard to describe the sound in person because it is very different than what you hear and what you see on television, it really is. Now imagine how loud it would be if golf's biggest draw was in that group--the roars would be deafining.


While I can confess to being cynical and not always thrilled about a past their prime star sucking all of the attention out of the room at a big event, I admit I'll watch this coming weekend and I hope he does well. I'd love to see Tiger playing on CBS Sunday afternoon it would make for incredible viewing.


But I'm also a realist. It would be a surprise if he makes the cut after Friday's round, it would be an absolute shock if he made it even to the leaderboard.


But it really would make it fun, wouldn't it?