Tiger Woods is in Augusta. Or at least, we know that his plane is.
Scott Michaux of the Augusta Chronicle reported that Woods, who missed last year's Masters because of a back injury and is in danger of missing this year's tournament, which begins April 9, has not yet been spotted in Augusta but his private jet is parked at the city's airport. From Michaux's story:
Buzz has been swirling that Tiger Woods would be practicing at Augusta National Golf Club this week, and it seems the four-time Masters Tournament champion is working out the kinks in his game today in Augusta.
A plane matching the tail numbers of Tiger Woods’ Gulfstream G5 was parked in front of the terminal for private aircraft at Augusta Regional Airport this morning.
Who knew the 104th ranked golfer in the world could create such intrigue?
There is no guarantee Woods will play in the Masters. Actually, the fact that his camp has been so secretive about his status suggests that decision still hasn't been made.
For what it's worth: PGA Tour events mandate that competitors inform tournament officials no later than 5 p.m. Friday the week before the even if they are withdrawing. But the Masters operates differently. Entrants need not register until just before their scheduled opening round tee time on Thursday. So theoretically, Woods' uncertain status could linger into next week.
Woods hasn’t played in an event since withdrawing after 11 holes of the Farmers Insurance Open on Feb. 5. He then announced he was taking an indefinite leave of absence to work on his game. His struggles of late have been as much about his mental state and the resulting flaws in his game as they have been about his health.
Many were surprised when he recently pulled out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and took that as a sign he would miss the Masters for the second straight year. He later released a statement, reading: "I've put in a lot of time and work on my game and I'm making strides, but like I've said, I won't return to the PGA Tour until my game is tournament ready and I can compete at the highest level. I hope to be ready for the Masters, and I will continue to work hard preparing for Augusta."
Since December of 2013, Woods has had only one top 10 finish in 10 events (finishing second in the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge). That includes three missed cuts and two withdrawals. Woods currently ranks 104th in the world golf rankings. But he continues to drive TV ratings and interest on the Tour. The Masters last year had its worst ratings since 1993, largely because of Woods' absence.