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A bullish Tiger Woods has declared himself “where I need to be” after marking his remarkable recovery from serious injury with a 71-under round at the Masters.

Woods, having not played competitive golf since November 2020 and 14 months after a serious car accident that left him worried his lower right leg might need to be amputated, ordered a huge gallery support on the first day at Augusta National. The crowds were impressed: Woods had three birdies and two bogeys to sit just four strokes from the lead. He has victory in his sights.

“I was able to finish in the red,” Woods said. “I am exactly where I need to be. The place was electric. I had a terrible warm-up session. I hit him terribly. I went back to what my father always said. “Did you accomplish your task during the warm-up? It’s a warm-up. Did you warm up? Yes I did it. “Now go play.” That’s exactly what I did, I went to play.

Tiger Woods says he’s ‘where I need to be’ after Masters first round |  The Masters
“I can swing a golf club. The walk is not easy, it is difficult. It’s going to be difficult for the rest of my life. » Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

“I forgot everything I did on the range and just went ahead and played; shot for shot, hitting the ball in the right spot, committing to what I’m doing, letting myself into the right angles, hopefully making a few putts, and let’s go after this thing. Yes, I was able to.

Woods, a five-time Masters champion, admitted it felt like a sort of victory even to compete here. He explained that “a lot of ice baths” would be needed before starting the second round on Friday afternoon.

“If you had seen what my leg looked like where it is now,” added the 46-year-old. “Some of the guys [fellow players] to know. They saw the pictures and they came home and they saw it. To see where I come from, to go from there to here, it was not an easy task.

“I can swing a golf club. The walk is not easy, it is difficult. It’s going to be difficult for the rest of my life. It’s like that but I’m able to do it. People have no idea how hard it was. My team yes. They worked with me every day. We haven’t had a day off since I rolled out of bed after three months [post-accident]. So it’s the commitment to come back and the commitment to come back to a level that I feel I can still do. I did something positive today.

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