Rory McIlroy: It would be 'phenomenal' if Tiger Woods returns at The Masters

The 15-time major champion played a practice round at Augusta National to test out his fitness

Rory McIlroy is competing at the Valero Texas Open this week ahead of The Masters, where he hopes to be joined by Tiger Woods. Getty
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Rory McIlroy has said it "would be phenomenal" if Tiger Woods is able to compete at next week's Masters.

Woods raised hopes that he could compete at the season's first major after playing a practice round at Augusta National with son Charlie and world No 7 Justin Thomas. According to reports, Woods flew to and from Georgia on his private jet on Tuesday to see how well he could walk the hilly layout.

The 46-year-old American has not played professionally since suffering serious leg injuries in a car crash in February 2021, revealing later he was lucky to survive the accident and fortunate to still have both legs.

While saying he plans to return to tournament play on a limited basis, the former world No 1 has given no timetable for when he might next play competitively.

Asked on Wednesday about the possibility of Woods playing at the Masters, McIlroy said having "Tiger there would be phenomenal".

"I think it just adds to the event," McIlroy said ahead of the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. "Anything Tiger Woods does in the game of golf is heightened whenever he's there. I mean, it would be awesome for him to be there."

Woods, who hasn't played an official tournament since the car crash, is said to be gauging whether he is fit enough to compete in the Masters next week. Last week, Woods' name appeared in the field for the April 7-10 tournament on the official website.

"I've said this so many times, but from basically March of 2017 fast forward two years and he wins the Masters and where he was with his body and what he had to do to get back to being somewhat healthy," McIlroy said. "And it's not even being somewhat healthy, it's also what he has to do before the round and after the round just to get himself ready to go and play golf."

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The 15-time major champion, whose last major win came at the 2019 Masters, underwent multiple surgeries on his right leg following a single-car accident near Los Angeles on February 23, 2021. Woods has said he intends to return to the PGA Tour, but declined to provide a specific timetable.

"The sheer will and perseverance is incredible," McIlroy said. "If he comes back from this again, it's just, he likes to prove people wrong, he likes to prove himself wrong, I think.

"Regardless of when he does come back, whether it's next week or a few weeks, few months down the line, he's a wonderful addition to the game and the game of golf is better when he's playing and when he's playing well."

Woods hasn't played a round on the PGA Tour since the coronavirus-delayed 2020 Masters, which was played in November of that year. His only golf tournament experience since has been competing alongside son Charlie in the PNC Championship in December.

Updated: March 31, 2022, 6:14 AM