Tiger Woods’ Masters return – what the players have been saying

The return of Tiger Woods to the Masters has been one of the key talking points ahead of this year’s tournament.

The 42-year-old, who has claimed four of his 14 major victories at Augusta National, has been in good form since making his comeback earlier this year and his fellow golfers have welcomed his return to action.

Here’s what some of Woods’ rivals have been saying about him this week…….

Rory McIlroy: “He’s got a great chance. Look at how he’s played the last few weeks. He’s had four wins here. I mean, was it 2010 he hadn’t played in a few months and this was his first start back and finished fourth. He’s very comfortable around this golf course, and his game is right there.

“And for him to be able to get around this place without any fears of it being too long or not having enough speed, yeah, anytime Tiger Woods is healthy and in this sort of form, he’s dangerous at any golf tournament. But given his history here, I think even more so.”

Rickie Fowler: “It’s been fun to see him back healthy enjoying playing the game of golf, not just trying to work through what he was able to do with his body and how he was able to move.

“Obviously he knows how to win, he’s not scared when he’s in the situation of in contention on the weekends. He’s going to win at some point. I think that’s pretty clear to everyone with the way he’s played and continued to get better. So it’s great for the game to have him back.”

Tiger Woods reflects on his practice round with Phil Mickelson and assesses the state of his game ahead of his return to the Masters.

Bubba Watson: “It’s great for the game of golf. There’s nothing but great things when he’s healthy.

“I mean, what he’s been able to do with the on‑and‑off the course to help the game of golf and help young people, being on course and winning again is going to just help that many more people love the game of golf but also help in different many ways throughout the world.”

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Jason Day: “I think when it comes to Tiger and the Tigermania that comes with it, that everyone wants to see him win and play the way he did before. I think everyone’s kind of solely focused on Tiger and what he’s going to do here and seeing if he can get to No 15. But that’s fine with us. That’s fine with me. I can just kind of focus on what I need to do to try and win this tournament.

“But there’s going to be a buzz around Augusta this week with Tiger being on the field, being on the grounds this week, and it’s going to be exciting to see.”

Dustin Johnson: “He’s probably one of the best players to ever play the game. So you would have to think he’s going to figure out a way to get it back. He has.

“He’s played pretty well this year so far but I can’t really worry about what Tiger’s doing. I got enough to worry about with myself.”

Jordan Spieth: “I think the addition of Tiger being healthy and playing well, no matter what else happened, was probably going to make it [the Masters] as anticipated as any going back five, six, seven years.”

Ahead of Tiger Woods' return to Augusta, we delve in to the archives to look back at his Masters highlights.

Jon Rahm: “It’s great to have him get better. I mean, I haven’t seen the reaction I saw by the crowds yesterday on the range to any other player. As soon as Tiger walked in everybody stood up and started clapping. It doesn’t happen for anybody else.

“It’s when someone like Tiger’s back in the game and is back at Augusta, it’s special. It’s very hard to imagine what it would be like if he were to play good again at majors and have chances to win and if I was a part of it playing against him. It’s great for all of us for him, it’s great for the crowds, great for TV, great for the tournament.”

Shubhankar Sharma: “With Tiger I think everyone can be like a fanboy. Tiger has a different aura about him and just the player that he is and how he dominated the world of golf is something. Yeah, so it definitely will be a fanboy moment for me when I go and say ‘hi’ to him.”

Phil Mickelson: “I know that I’ve appreciated the challenge of playing and competing against him, and I also appreciate the level of greatness that he’s achieved in his career, and I’ve also enjoyed the chance to play and compete with him and against him. And it has been tough dealing with as much failure against him as I’ve had, but I also enjoy the challenge.”

Justin Thomas: “I know he wants to make another run at us young guns. It’s great for golf, it’s great for him. I’m happy for him. I cherish the opportunity to potentially be going down the stretch with him to win a golf tournament or potentially a major, so who knows.”

Tommy Fleetwood, who has been grouped alongside Woods in the first round: “The first real Masters I watched was 1997, when he won his first. A few years on and I get to play with him and I don’t think you can get a better draw than Tiger at the Masters, especially with what’s going on in golf at the moment.

“All that said, I’m only bothered about me. Whatever he does is not my problem, I’ve got to get on with my own stuff. But it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s very cool.”

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