Tiger makes final preparations for epic Masters return

AUGUSTA -Tiger Woods has talked the talk, now he’ll have to walk the walk as he chases a record-tying sixth Masters title only 14 months after suffering severe leg injuries in a car crash. Woods played the back nine at hilly Augusta National on Wednesday in a final practice round before Thursday’s start of the 86th Masters, making one last test of his surgically repaired right leg. “I don’t have any qualms about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint. It’s now walking is the hard part,” Woods said. “This is normally not an easy walk to begin with. Now given the condition that my leg is in, it gets even more difficult. It’s going to be a tough challenge and a challenge that I’m up for.” The 46-year-old superstar, who says he fights pain every day, played an 18-hole practice round last week over the 7,510-yard layout and has played three nine-hole practice rounds over the past four days. “I don’t have to worry about the ball striking,” Woods said. “It’s actually just the hills.” Barring a setback in his condition, Woods will tee off Thursday morning alongside South African Louis Oosthuizen and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann with thousands of spectators and a global television audience watching his every move. “It really shouldn’t surprise us. He’s one of the most dedicated, determined athletes I’ve ever seen in my life,” Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said. “Who knows what might happen this week? We’re excited he’s here.”

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