Tiger Woods and caddie Joe LaCava arrive early at Augusta National
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods arrived at Augusta National on Sunday afternoon and played a three-hour practice round.
With just his putter and wedge.
“I just got in,” Woods said Sunday. “So just getting a little feel for the golf course and how it’s playing.”
The 14-time major champ walked the famed grounds on a calm but muggy late afternoon in preparation for his 22nd start in this tournament, which he last won in 2005.
He nearly had Augusta National to himself.
After the Drive, Chip & Putt finals concluded in the early afternoon, the course was then closed to the public, on a day that Woods was not originally planning to be on course.
Thunderstorms are expected Monday, so that forecast may have influenced the four-time Masters winner’s decision to play Sunday.
“It’s amazing what you can do when there’s nobody out there,” Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava said. “We saw nobody on the front nine except J.B. Holmes.”
So was short game practice exclusively the plan all along?
“He didn’t tell me, he said ‘we’re just going to go out to chip and putt,’” LaCava said.
“So I said ‘yeah I’m all in.’”
Any surprises with how the greens and chipping areas were playing Sunday?
“Zero, none at all,” Woods said.
What is a new topic of discussion is the lengthened, par-4 fifth hole.
Woods has made positive comments recently about the changes made there, a hole which was stretched to 495 yards, and he was singing the praises of the move on Sunday.
“It looks exactly the same, like it’s always been there,” Woods said.
“That’s what’s amazing about this place, they always do an amazing job, there’s no scars, any time they make changes out here it just looks like it’s always been there.”
LaCava echoed Woods’ analysis.
“I thought it was good, he liked it, too,” LaCava said. “I think everybody’s going to like it. It’s long, uphill. I think it looks good.”
There’s a major excitement to this particular Masters with Woods healthy and in form, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy coming off recent wins, and other top players coming in with momentum.
Woods makes his second consecutive start here after missing 2016 and 2017 with injury.
“You’ve got eight or 10 of the top players that are playing well at the same time, I think it’s fantastic,” LaCava said.
“I think Tiger’s playing well, Rory’s playing good, Phil, DJ, Justin Thomas, Rahm, Jason Day. Everyone’s playing well.”
It’s early in the week, but if Woods was able to come through and win that elusive 15th major at this venue and against this trending field, what might that be like?
“It would be fun here more so than any (major),” LaCava said, “but it would be fun regardless, but it’s the Sunday before, I don’t want to get carried away.
“We just gotta throw up a couple of good scores early on and see what happens.”