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Tiger in Ryder Cup captaincy talks but confident at Masters

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 09: Tiger Woods of The United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 09, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

Tiger Woods will resume talks about being the 2025 US Ryder Cup captain next week after the 15-time major winner struggles through aches and pains simply to walk 72 holes at the Masters.

Woods said Tuesday he has delayed talks with the PGA of America about being captain next year at Bethpage because he hasn’t lost confidence that he can win another green jacket.

“If everything comes together, I think I can get one more,” Woods said Tuesday after a nine-hole practice round at Augusta National ahead of the 88th Masters.

Woods said he will resume Ryder Cup talks next week with PGA of America chief executive officer Seth Waugh.

“It’s something that Seth and I are going to sit back and talk about after this event,” Woods said. “I said I’m going to be busy for a couple weeks, so let me focus on getting through this week and hopefully getting another jacket, and then we can sit back and talk about it next week.”

The 48-year-old US legend has recovered from right ankle surgery last April that stemmed from a 2021 car crash that caused severe leg injuries.

“I hurt every day,” Woods said. “I ache. I ache every day.”

Nevertheless, Woods made a believer of pal Fred Couples who joined Woods and Justin Thomas in Tuesday’s practice session.

“Can he win here? You know what? Yeah,” Couples said. “Nine holes is only nine holes on a Tuesday, but he never mis-hits a shot.

“His ankle is bad. We know it. But he’s here, he’s going to walk 72 holes, and if he keeps playing like that, he’ll be a factor.”

Woods withdrew after making the cut last year rather than face a rainy last day with extra holes.

“He said his back is doing OK,” Couples said. “He looks strong and he’s excited to play.”

Woods, a five-time Masters champion, won his most recent major title at Augusta National in 2019, that completing an epic comeback from multiple back and knee operations.

Body takes a load 

At this stage, Woods is having to spread the stress load from his shotmaking across his surgically repaired body.

“Well, the ankle doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s fused. It’s not going anywhere. So that’s fine. It’s other parts of my body that now have to take the brunt of it,” he said.

“The back, the knee, other parts of the body, have to take the load of it and just the endurance capability of walking a long time and being on my feet for a long time.”

Trying to walk four rounds has been a challenge since Woods did it in 2022 to finish 47th at the Masters in his comeback event over the punishing hilly layout.

With the slopes and slants on offer at Augusta National, every step is a tricky one for Woods.

“As far as my physicality on certain shots, every shot that’s not on a tee box is a challenge,” Woods said.

By making the cut in a 24th consecutive Masters start, Woods would break the record he now shares with Couples and Gary Player.

“It’s consistency, it’s longevity and it’s an understanding of how to play this golf course,” Woods said of his consecutive cuts streak.

“I can still go through the mental Rolodex and bring out a few putts from the ’90s that still move generally in (the right) direction.”

Couples said Woods is after far more than a cut record, hoping to equal the record six Masters wins by 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus.

“The last thing he’s thinking about is making the cut,” Couples said. “He’s here to win. He’s here to play really hard.”

Woods withdrew from his PGA Tour comeback event at Riviera in February due to illness, but admitted he wasn’t physically ready for the challenge.

“My body wasn’t ready. My game wasn’t ready,” he said, noting how he had hoped to play once a month in 2024.

“Hasn’t worked out that way. But now we have major championships every month from here through July, so now the once a month hopefully kicks in.”

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