At the Masters, Tiger Woods is going to take some snow with that

AUGUSTA, GA – Tiger Woods stood in the gorgeous Georgia spring sunlight one afternoon last week, a long dose of warmth before the infernal cold hours ahead.

“So many treatments, so many ice, so many ice baths, I froze myself to death,” Woods said of his plans before the next shootout at Augusta National Golf Club. “That’s just part of the deal.”

Nader is the athlete whose medical history has been examined and documented further – by doctors, as well as by plenty of armchair experts in championship halls, living rooms and the media – over the decades. But with Woods pursuing his sixth Masters title and not until 14 months after a car wreck amputated his leg, the 46-year-old golfer’s recovery system was more important than any reading of any green.

However, the weekend seems to prove its limits.

Woods hit a stunning goal on Thursday 71 and 74 on Friday. Taken together, the rounds, up and down as they were, were fantastic displays of the brutality and grit that helped Woods dominate his sport for years. But those outings before the cuts were expected to be the least taxing.

On Saturday, he scored 78, the worst Tour Masters of his career. He became a bogey or worse on seven holes, including the last three, and headed into the final round on Sunday at seven over par.

By sunset on Saturday, after a windswept run and poor condition, the man arriving in Augusta was almost certainly expected to be a contender on Sunday and a test case for his quick rehab abilities would be none other than the last. .

For Woods, worrying over the course of the week was never his golf skill. Instead, he was downright worried about the wear and tear on the body that had been enjoying its easiest day in a long time.

Asked on Saturday how the physical challenge had developed during the tournament, he replied: “It hasn’t changed. It has been difficult.”

He and his team have spent hours between rounds trying to achieve dueling ambitions: reduce the swelling that comes with the topographic nightmare that is Augusta, and keep Woods’ surgically reconstructed limb “moving, warm, energized, and explosive the next day,” as he put it in one of his meetings with reporters. in Augusta.

“Most sports, if you’re not feeling very well, you have a teammate to pass it on to them, and they can kind of take the load, or in football, one day a week,” Woods said. “Here we have four days in a row, and no one will bear the burden by my side. I must figure out a way to do it.”

According to Woods, he hasn’t taken a day off from his rehab efforts since he got out of bed for three months following the wreck of his one car near Los Angeles in February 2021. The accident left him with open fractures of his tibia and lower leg. A shrapnel in his right leg, prompting surgeons to add rods, plates, and screws to his leg.

The subsequent recovery required swaps and bets, and in something not new to Woods, the unshakable confidence in his talents faded as it might have been.

Some changes seem easier to accept than others, such as new shoes to help stabilize the track. Woods said Friday that experts have also developed protocols before and after the rounds — “after you go ahead and break it there, they go ahead and fix it overnight” — that have significantly expanded the schedule that comes with play.

These methods, which could stretch for hours, made Woods have less time to hit a thousand balls a day, once again, improving the nuances of his game.

“It becomes painful and annoying because of simple things I would normally do and it now takes a few hours here and two hours there to prepare and then relax,” he said. “So, activity time, to do what I want to do, it adds more time to both sides.”

The goal, he said, was to build up the stamina that supported him and every other Augusta winner, to give enough rest to make competitive golf a possibility more than a distant dream.

But these strategies can only ease the pain, not quell it, which Woods said is present “every day.”

But he insists that pain is not a problem. By his account, he had no unexpected physical setbacks in his early days in Augusta. But he acknowledged that everything is woven together.

“I was expecting to be sore and definitely not feeling my best,” Woods said on Friday. “It’s a combination. I can walk on that golf course – I can put on my tennis shoes and go for a walk, that’s not a problem. But going to ballistic shots and hitting shot forms of asymmetric lies, it sets a whole new challenge for her.”

He quickly stumbled, most likely for another night of ice.