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Before his masters return, Tiger Woods stays loose

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods’ final day of preparation for the 2022 Masters was typical of the laid-back vibe on the eve of the tournament, when the goal is to play a little golf, but not too much — just enough to stay loose for Thursday’s first round.

With that in mind, Woods played nine holes with his favorite practice partners, Florida neighbor Justin Thomas, whom Woods considers a little brother, and Fred Couples, who occasionally served as Woods’ big brother.

Befitting the atmosphere, the group smiled steadily throughout the round, although Couples, 62, the 1992 Masters champion, noticed a slight change in Woods’ demeanor since playing rounds of training with him earlier in the week.

“He was a little more serious; he’s getting ready to roll,” Couples said. “The first practice lap I played with him on Monday, we both flew that day and we were laughing a lot. He was lighter. Today he and Justin were pretty serious. They’re getting ready . »

Fans lining the holes the Woods group played on Wednesday alternately cheered Woods, the five-time Masters champion, on the tees and in the fairways and remained silent as they watched him almost reverently practice his putt at various spots on each putting green.

Couples said Woods, who limped more pronounced on Wednesday than every other day he practiced at Augusta National, seemed to swing the club better than any other day of the week. However, Woods’ surgically reconstructed right leg is clearly causing him pain.

“The pain is there, but he’s already dealt with it,” Couples said. “In terms of swing, I think he’s a little sharper, a little better.”

The couples added that he continues to be mesmerized that Woods is back at the Masters so soon after his horrific car accident on February 23, 2021.

“It’s a miraculous thing, I mean 14 months ago I bawl like a baby every day worried about him,” he said. “And now you’re paired with him and he looks strong.” He hits it far enough to play this course, and he plays this course so well. He knows what to do here. I think it’s amazing for him to be here.

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