Thomas: Tiger ‘bummed’ not to be at Masters

  • Senior college football writer
  • Author of seven books on college football
  • Graduate of the University of Georgia

AUGUSTA, Georgia — In each of the previous four years, Justin Thomas played practice rounds at Augusta National Golf Club with two former Masters champions — Fred Couples and Tiger Woods.

Thomas said Couples, the 1992 Masters winner, blew him off Tuesday morning.

“He didn’t feel like getting up in the early cold weather this morning, so I made sure to give him some grief,” Thomas said. “I don’t know if he would have bailed on me if Tiger was with me, but he did on me.”

Woods, a five-time Masters champion who last won the event in 2019, is at home in Florida, recovering from serious injuries he suffered in a single-car wreck outside Los Angeles on Feb. 23.

Thomas said he visited with Woods a couple of times last week and exchanged text messages with him Friday morning.

“He said it’s kind of starting to set in,” Thomas said. “He’s bummed he’s not here playing practice rounds with us, and we hate it, too.”

Woods, 45, underwent several hours of emergency surgery to repair what doctors called “significant orthopaedic injuries” to his lower right leg and ankle. Doctors said Woods suffered comminuted open fractures — bones that were broken into more than two pieces and with breaks in the skin — in the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula of his right leg.

Woods is not expected to attend Tuesday night’s Champions Dinner hosted by Dustin Johnson. Woods hosted the event in November 2020 at the pandemic-delayed Masters Tournament.

Couples, 61, posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday night, in which he and another member of his team were wearing Tiger masks.

Thomas didn’t say much about where Woods was in his recovery.

“I would say the thing for him is he’s unfortunately been through rehab processes before,” Thomas said.

On Jan. 19, Woods announced that he underwent a microdiscectomy to alleviate nerve pain in his lower back. He previously had it done three times — once in the spring of 2014 and twice in the fall of 2015. He had a spinal fusion in April 2017 that prevented him from swinging a golf club for six months.

Woods came back from that surgery in 2018 and won the Tour Championship that year, followed by the Masters in 2019 and the Zozo Championship later that year.

Thomas said he has told Woods, one of his close friends, that he’ll do whatever he needs to help.

“That’s just what I want to do for him, is just be like, ‘Dude, I’ll do anything you want. If you need me to help out with your kids, I can do that. If you’re craving McDonald’s and you want me to bring it over, dude, I don’t care. I’m here for you and I’ll help out however I can,'” Thomas said.

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