Tiger Woods had 52 minutes between Masters rounds. Here’s everything he did

Tiger Woods of the United States reacts on the 18th green during the continuation of the first round of the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National

Tiger Woods at the Masters on Friday.

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Tiger Woods had plenty of prep time between his last competitive round on the PGA Tour, at the Genesis Invitational, in February, and his first round at the 88th Masters this week — 55 days, to be exact. The same could not be said of the time Woods had between his first Masters round and his second.

Because inclement weather delayed the start of the opening round, Woods’ Thursday tee time was pushed to 3:54 p.m., meaning he and his playing partners — Max Homa and Jason Day — were able to complete only 13 holes before darkness set in. They resumed their first round at 7:50 a.m. Friday in cool, blustery conditions and played their remaining five holes in 1 hour and 36 minutes. When Woods tapped in for a bogey 5 on 18 at 9:26 a.m., he had a one-over 73 on his card and exactly 52 minutes to ready himself for his second round.       

Having less than an hour between rounds might not sound like a big deal; perhaps you do it regularly at your club, or on your annual 36-holes-a-day buddies’ trip. But you likely haven’t had five microdisectomies on your back…and multiple knee surgeries…and screws and pins in your right ankle…and a subtalar fusion in that same ankle to address post-traumatic arthritis and…well, your quick turnaround most certainly has never come on a Masters Friday at Augusta National. Woods, meanwhile? He’s half golfer, half medical miracle. It’s remarkable he’s navigating this course, let alone making birdies on it. He all but creaks when he walks and squeaks when he swings, which explains why he rises at 4:30 a.m. to prime his body for morning tee times.

So, how would a player who is accustomed to spending hours, days or even weeks readying for a round make use of less prep time than it takes to roast a small chicken?

This is how.

After cleaning up his bogey on 18, Woods removed his cap and shook hands with his playing partners and their caddies. He exited the back of the green and made his way through a channel of patrons, seven or eight deep, some of whom who were calling his name. Within a minute or two, Woods had traversed the rolling expanse between the home hole and the clubhouse and ducked into scoring. At 9:35, he emerged, card checked and signed, with his agent, Mark Steinberg, at his side. A gaggle of reporters milled in an interview pen, hopeful that Woods might offer a few words. He did not. Instead, he stayed on the move and disappeared down the walkway just right of scoring.     

By 9:41, Woods was on the far left side of the nearly deserted practice range with his new caddie, Lance Bennett, and righthand man, Rob McNamara. Job No. 1: transferring the second-round pin locations to their yardage books, a task that required nearly six minutes of paper-flipping and note-scribbling. Next to the base of Woods’ bag was a water bottle and a plastic container holding a snack.

At 9:44, Woods loosened his belt and unbuttoned his pants, revealing a supportive patch that was attached to his lower back. He rubbed what looked to be Icy Hot, a topical pain reliever, over his midriff and the area around his lower spine, as if he were applying lotion at the beach. When Woods had finished, Bennett cleansed Woods’ hands with water.

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Woods pulled a wedge from his bag. It was now 9:47, 31 minutes from his starting time. A stiff wind straight into his face, Woods hit five balls to a mini-flag no more than 40 yards from him, then two more to a flag at 60 or 70 yards. With his eighth swing, same wedge in hand, Woods began taking aim at a green 75 yards away. After three more swings, he paused to stretch his back.

His wedge work done, Woods leaned toward his bag and unsheathed what appeared to be an 8- or 9-iron and hit 10 balls into the sprawling emerald expanse. Before Woods’ 11th swing, McNamara saddled up to him and hovered the butt of an iron near the low point in Woods’ swing path. With this swing guide in place, Woods took six more swipes.

By 9:50, the range was filling. Erik van Rooyen strolled past Woods. So did Cameron Young and Augusta National member and PGA Tour dealmaker Jimmy Dunne, resplendent in his green jacket. But Woods had little time for practice let alone small talk. Six spots down from Woods, one of his playing partners, Homa, was now getting loose.

Woods took a one minute break before resuming with a mid-iron. Two swings. Then a fairway wood. Two more swings. Then off came his fabled tiger head cover. Driver. Four swings. Bennett was now grazing on a fried chicken sandwich.

At 9:58 — 20 minutes from go-time — Woods took one final swing, this time with a wedge. Two minutes later, he had exited the range and was in the back of a golf cart, McNamara to his right, Bennett riding shotgun. Next stop: the practice green by the first tee.

By the time this reporter caught up with Woods, he was rapping uphill 40-footers across the heart of the green. A mass of patrons swarmed around the putting surface and adjacent first tee, eager for a glimpse of the five-time green jacket winner. Woods’ long putts were followed by a couple of shorter attempts before which he raised his ball to his eye then let it drop to the green, an exercise designed to help him get his eyes squarely over the ball. At 10:13, Woods, Homa and Day strolled onto the tee. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt was among the throng of patrons, craning his neck for a view. So, too, was the former NBA star-turned-college golfer J.R. Smith.

Woods took four practice swings with his driver, paused, then took seven more. He bent over and stretched his back, then took five more rehearsal swings. Stay loose. Stay loose. Stay loose.

At 10:17, a green-coated official barked: “Fore, please. Now driving…Tiger Woods.”

Woods took five more practice swings.

And then it was time.

Smack. Liftoff.

A slight tug but nothing to sweat. Woods’ ball found the left side of the fairway. His second round was officially underway.

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