Home Sports OLIVER HOLT: Tiger Woods’ longest day was a fight between light and darkness. Fate and the Masters tee times had conspired against him, but what he is doing at Augusta is absolutely extraordinary.

OLIVER HOLT: Tiger Woods’ longest day was a fight between light and darkness. Fate and the Masters tee times had conspired against him, but what he is doing at Augusta is absolutely extraordinary.

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Tiger Woods' longest day at Augusta National was a fight between light and darkness

It was just before 8 a.m. and Tiger Woods stood in the rays of bright morning sunlight at the bottom of the slope leading to the 14th green at Augusta National.

He tossed a chip toward the putting surface and watched it roll 22 feet past the hole. She judged the line of her par putt perfectly, but left it a foot away. She looked sullenly at her ball.

The pain in the limbs and joints of Woods’ body, a body ravaged by time, misadventures and the relentless pursuit of greatness, reached its worst after dawn and he shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked to the tee. of the 15th, his expression fixed and gloomy. People shouted words of encouragement but he didn’t seem to hear them.

This was the beginning of Tiger Woods’ longest day, a day in which weather, fate and Masters tee times had conspired to bequeath the greatest golfer of this generation, a man held up by metal rods and fusion surgery. spinal and ankle, the physical challenge of playing 23 holes before the end of the afternoon.

Tiger Woods’ longest day at Augusta National was a fight between light and darkness

Woods played 23 holes on Friday after his first round was cut short by bad light on Thursday.

Woods played 23 holes on Friday after his first round was cut short by bad light on Thursday.

But what the five-time Masters winner is doing at Augusta this week has been remarkable.

But what the five-time Masters winner is doing at Augusta this week has been remarkable.

He may have played more holes in 24 hours when he was younger, but not since he nearly lost his leg in a car accident in the hills of Los Angeles in 2021, an accident caused by his own driving that left him in a lot of pain. that he was forced to withdraw from the Masters midway through the third round last year.

There was a delay on the 15th tee as Woods and his playing partners, Jason Day and Max Homa, waited for the group ahead to move out of reach and Day attempted to strike up a conversation with Woods. Woods responded, but he didn’t seem particularly enthused about the exchange. It would be fair to say that Day did most of the talking.

They then hit their drives and Woods hit his between the two lines of pines that formed a corridor away from the tee. The bright white ball rose into the air against the clear blue sky and stopped in the middle of the lush green street, as the crowd roared and a father pulled his son over to the five-time winner.

Everyone wants to feel up close the presence of greatness in the sport and to see Woods play, to see him walk the streets of Augusta, is to feel the richness of golf’s history and his place alongside the giants of the game. such as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer.

Everyone wants to feel the presence of greatness in sports up close and see Woods play.

Everyone wants to feel the presence of greatness in sports up close and see Woods play.

The 15-time major winner suffered serious injuries following a car accident in 2021.

Murray, for his part, recently suffered an Achilles tendon injury and also has a metal hip.

Woods and Andy Murray’s greatness comes from their refusal to retire from golf and tennis

Greatness can progress through different iterations of a player’s career, and Woods’ greatness is now contained in his absolute refusal to accept that his physical limitations can neutralize his absurd levels of natural talent. Same goes for Andy Murray and his metal hip. Forget the people urging Woods and Murray to retire. They are as inspiring at this stage of their careers as they were in their prime.

Woods, 48, was also looking to make history this Friday in Georgia. He had made the cut at The Masters 23 consecutive times before this year, tied for the most in tournament history with Fred Couples and Player. This was his chance to be alone at the head of the field.

Woods followed his ball down the 15th fairway, behind everyone else in his playing group, hands still in his pockets against the chill lingering in the morning air. When he caught up with him, he saw that he was not far from Day’s dance. As it happens, Woods had edged Day by about six feet.

Police said the golfer had

Police said the golfer was “lucky to be alive” after hitting a raised central reservation while speeding in 2021 and crashing his SUV.

Woods, who won in 2019, continues to show that he is a phenomenon on the golf course

Woods, who won in 2019, continues to show that he is a phenomenon on the golf course

What Woods is doing here at Augusta this year is extraordinary. Absolutely remarkable. After all, he has a talent for the extraordinary. I was here in 2019 when he won his fifth Masters at the age of 43, shortly after he suffered so many back problems that he could barely walk. It was probably the greatest individual sporting achievement he had ever witnessed. The man is a phenomenon.

He finally finished his first round at 9:29 a.m., having dropped another shot on the 18th. He briefly disappeared into the clubhouse. There were only 48 minutes left until the start of their second round. When he re-emerged and walked through the crowd waiting for him under the famous oak tree, someone shouted “Come on, Tiger” and Woods puffed out his cheeks as if he were preparing for a physical test.

That’s partly what golf has become for him now. He disappeared toward the first tee, as the crowd formed a hallway for him and his entourage of security guards and looked like the preamble to a title fight. Given the battle ahead, perhaps that was appropriate. Many expected that from that moment on he would fade away and miss the cut. Woods was not among them.

As I walked down the first fairway, a woman took the hand of a young woman in a floral dress and pointed in the direction of the man who was limping determinedly up the hill toward the first green. —Do you see that man with the white hat? she told her daughter. “That’s Tiger Woods.”

Woods and Jason Day were seen chatting during their round on Thursday afternoon.

Woods and Jason Day were seen chatting during their round on Thursday afternoon.

Although he made the cut, Woods won't stop there and says he believes he can win again at Augusta.

Although he made the cut, Woods won’t stop there and says he believes he can win again at Augusta.

Woods continued to fight. His second round was a fight between light and darkness. He birdied the third and bogeyed the fourth and fifth. Against the backdrop of a deafening roar that echoed throughout the course, he leaped from the edge of a bunker on the sixth for birdie. Amid loud groans of disappointment, he bogeyed the seventh. He then birdied the 8th.

At Amen Corner, he made a brilliant par on the 11th when Homa, now the tournament leader, could only manage a bogey. When he stepped onto the 12th tee, the huge gallery of patrons gathered there rose by the thousands to applaud him and watch as he carried his tee shot safely over Rae’s Creek.

He played steadily now, making five pars in a row before making bogey on the 14th. He then hit a majestic second shot on the par-five 15th 15 feet from the hole. After Woods hits a shot, armies of spectators move in, eager to follow him every step of the way. They saw him miss his eagle putt short but make a birdie.

It was obvious that Woods would make the cut and history would be made. It’s unlikely Woods thought of it that way. “I think I can get one more,” he said Tuesday, when asked how far his ambition goes for the tournament. When he finished his round, he was eight shots off the lead. There was still work to do.

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