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Tiger Woods expects to play, thinks he can win 2022 Masters

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Tiger Woods expects to play, thinks he can win 2022 Masters
Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on hole No. 4 during a practice round leading up to the Masters on Monday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 5 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods feels like he is "going to play" in the 2022 Masters Tournament and thinks he can win the major title, he told reporters Tuesday at a news conference.

Woods, who hasn't played since the 2020 Masters due to the serious leg injuries he sustained in a Feb. 23, single-car crash near Los Angeles, practiced last week and early this week at Augusta National Golf Club.

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The tournament runs from Thursday through Sunday in Augusta, Ga.

"As of right now, I feel like I am going to play," Woods told reporters. "I'm going to play nine more holes tomorrow [Wednesday]. My recovery has been good."

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Woods won five of his previous 15 major titles at Augusta, including the 2019 Green Jacket.

"I love competing," Woods said. "I feel like if I can still compete at the highest level, I'm going to. I feel like if I think I can win, I'm going to play. If I feel like I can't, you won't see me out there.

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"I won't show up to an event unless I think I can win it."

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Fellow golfer Fred Couples told reporters that Woods was "bombing" drives and looked "phenomenal" Monday in a practice session. Couples also said Woods was matching the length of Justin Thomas' drives during the session. Thomas is the No. 7 player in the Official World Golf Ranking.

"He looked phenomenal," Couples said of Woods. "What impressed me the most is he was bombing it. I know J.T. is not the longest hitter on tour, but I know he's long. [Tiger] was with him, flushing it."

Woods surprised many observers last week when he flew to Augusta to practice on the course. He said in November that he doesn't expect a full-time return to the PGA Tour due to his lingering back issues and the leg injuries.

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Woods returned to Augusta on Sunday afternoon to continue practicing. He did a 20-minute warm-up with various clubs at the driving range before he went onto the 10th tee.

Couples said Woods walked nine holes Monday and played another nine holes Sunday. He called his friend "very impressive." He said he sends text messages to Woods every day, and thinks that Woods will "contend" if he can walk for the 72-hole tournament.

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"I hope everything keeps going Tuesday and Wednesday, and I'm sure he's going to tee it up Thursday," Couples said.

Woods wrote Sunday on social media that it will be a "game-time decision" on if he competes in this week's tournament. Woods' previous major title, before the 2019 Masters, was at the 2008 U.S. Open. He also won the Masters in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005.

"The fact I was able to get myself here to this point is a success," Woods said Tuesday. "Now that I'm playing, [it's about] how to get myself in the position where I'm on the back nine and have a chance."

Golfers will tee off at 8:45 a.m. EDT Thursday for the first round. The four-round tournament airs on Masters.com, ESPN and CBS.

Moments from Tiger Wood's career

Tiger Woods swings during the second round of the U.S. Open in Bethesda, Md., on June 13, 1997. The following April, Woods became the youngest Masters Tournament winner. Photo by Jay Clark/UPI | License Photo

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