Severe leg injuries in a February car crash ensured Tiger Woods won’t be playing in this year’s Masters on the 20th anniversary of his “Tiger Slam” victory at Augusta National.
But the 45-year-old superstar, whose 15 major titles include five Masters green jackets, will have his legacy felt across the famed layout.
Woods is recovering at home in Florida after suffering serious injuries when his car flew off the road and flipped several times during the Southern California accident.
Hours of surgery were required to repair his shattered lower right leg and ankle, including a rod inserted into his tibia and the use of screws and pins to stabilize the joint.
Woods, who won his most recent major at the 2019 Masters, became the first black golfer to win a major title when he captured the 1997 Masters in record fashion.
On Thursday, the Masters will pay tribute to the first black golfer to play in the event when Lee Elder hits a ceremonial tee shot alongside usual honorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
“Lee was a pioneer. He was the one that broke the color barrier here and paved the way for players of color like myself to be able to play this event,” Woods said about Elder.
“It’s ironic that he did it in ’75, I was born in ’75, and when I won in ’97, he was on the back of the green.”
“To have him as our Honorary Starter, it’s awfully special and important in the history of the event, but also for me personally, it’s probably even more special.”
Woods, whose 82 US PGA victories is level with Sam Snead for the all-time record, faces a long recovery and questions about his future. He was already recovering from a fifth career back surgery at the time of the crash, which investigators have described as “purely an accident” with no evidence of impairment.
Woods completed a fairytale comeback from multiple back operations to win the 2019 Masters, an emotional victory that saw him hug his children the way he did he late father after his 1997 triumph