The Masters 2022: How does Tiger Woods fare when returning from a lengthy injury break?

With the 15-time Major winner ready to tee it up again for the first time since 2020, we look at his hopes of success at Augusta National this week.

He's back!

Tiger Woods announced on Tuesday that, if everything continues on track, he'll tee it up in the 2022 Masters.

And that will be his first appearance on the PGA Tour for 17 months when he finished tied 38th at the 2020 Masters held in November.

After fears that he'd never play competitive golf again following a car crash in February last year, the news has created an incredible buzz around Augusta National.

So what are reasonable expectations to put on Tiger? To break 80? To break the par of 72? To make the cut? Or perhaps to launch some kind of title challenge?

Here we look at how Tiger has performed when coming back to action after a long break due to injury.

2008-2009 - ACL surgery: absence of 254 days

Background: Tiger went under the knife after famously winning the 2008 US Open on one leg in June 2008. After the event he had reconstructive surgery, the third operation on his left knee in five years. In February of 2009 he issued a brief statement on his own website, tigerwoods.com: "I'm now ready to play again."

Tiger's comeback event: Woods decided that his return would be at the Match Play Championship in Arizona in February 2019, then a straight knockout event.

How did he perform? Woods scored a 3&2 win over Aussie Brendan Jones on day one. He birdied the very first hole.

Tiger

"I felt good," he said: "I got off to a quick start which certainly helped. I hit some good shots early. I hit some loose irons in the middle part of the round but then got it back. I thought I hit it good all day except for just a couple of loose irons."

As for the knee: "It felt good. It held up. I feel good now. I am sure I will be sore a little bit later but ice and elevate and I will be good to go tomorrow."

Woods lost 4&2 to Tim Clark in the second round.

He said: "I hit it really good today. I just didn't make enough birdies. Tim made some birdies there, and I didn't answer him in the middle part of the round."

2014 - Back surgery: absence of 109 days

Background: Tiger had played just four times in 2014 with results of MC-41-WD-25 when he decided repair work was needed for a pinched nerve after his top 25 at March's Cadillac Championship. It meant he missed the Masters for the first time in 20 years.

Tiger's comeback event: After microdiscectomy surgery, Woods returned to golf at the Quicken Loans National in June 2014.

"After a lot of therapy I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week at the Quicken Loans National," Woods wrote. "I've just started to hit full shots but it's time to take the next step.

"I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape. Excited for the challenge ahead."

How did he perform? There was clearly some rust and Tiger shot rounds of 74 and 75 to miss the cut by four shots. Over his two rounds he failed to hit 16 greens and the short game couldn't save him as he got up and down just three times.

Tiger Woods

He said: "I'm really encouraged by what happened this week. I missed the cut by four shots - that's a lot. But the fact that what I was able to do physically, and the speed I had and the distance that I was hitting the golf ball again, I had not done that in a very long time.

"Felt great today. Then I made so many little mistakes … all the little things that I know I can fix. But as I said, that's very encouraging."

2015-2016 - Back surgery: absence of 466 days

Background: After finishing tied 10th at the Wyndham Championship in August, Tiger had two back procedures in late 2015 and the recovery time went on and on. He was out for well over a year and there were doubts he'd ever play again.

Tiger's comeback event: Woods, now 40, announced that his comeback would be at his own tournament in December 2016: the Hero World Challenge at Albany in the Bahamas, an event limited to just 18 players.

Tiger

"I'm going to try to do what I always do. I'm entered in this event, and I'm going to try and win. I know that's a tall order," he said in the build-up," he said.

How did he perform? In this no-cut event, Woods was guaranteed four rounds and shot 73-65-70-76 to finish 15th of the 18 starters. That was 14 behind winner Hideki Matsuyama but his 65 on day two provided a real thrill.

"I felt like I did some really positive things," he said later. "I'm pleased about that. I just need to clean it up.

"The good sign is that I played four straight days, was in no pain, and I was able to hit the golf ball as hard as I wanted to."

2017 - Back surgery: absence of 300 days

Background: Tiger withdrew after an opening 77 at the Dubai Desert Classic in February 2017. Now he underwent a fourth back operation since 2014, the latest procedure a fusion surgery that he said alleviated a lot of pain in his body.

Tiger's comeback event: Once more he chose a gentle return, getting back to action at his own event in December 2017. "I am excited to return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge," Woods said in an announcement. "Albany is the perfect setting and it will be great to join this outstanding field."

How did he perform? In his first start for 10 months and seven months on from surgery Woods finished tied ninth in the 18-man field, shooting round scores of 69-68-75-68.

"I'm excited," said Woods. "This is the way I've been playing at home and when I came out here and played, I was playing very similar to this.

"Not quite hitting it as far, but I had the adrenaline going and overall I'm very pleased."

On the week, Woods made 17 birdies, two eagles, 11 bogeys and one double-bogey.

Conclusion

Tiger has shown flashes of good play in each of his comeback events.

They show a second-round exit in the Match Play, a missed cut, 15th out of 18 and tied ninth out of 18.

Woods, as you'd expect though, is bullish about his return to action at Augusta National this week.

"I don't show up to an event unless I think I can win it. So that's the attitude I've had.

"Physically the challenge this week is I don't have to worry about the ball striking or the game of golf, it's actually just the hills out here."

Whatever happens, it's just a thrill to see him back.

READ MORE: Who will win the 2022 Masters at Augusta National?

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