PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — After missing all four major tournaments in 2016, on Monday Tiger Woods kind of, sort of committed to playing the 2017 Masters.

“Yes, I’m hoping I get everything right,” he said. “So, yes, I’m looking forward to it.”

So far, Woods has formally announced a four-tournament schedule in his return from a back injury that kept him out of tournament play for some 16 months.

When asked Monday at Riviera Country Club, where next month he’ll host the Genesis Open, at what point he’ll start thinking about Augusta, Woods didn’t mince any words.

“Now,” he responded without hesitation. “I’ve been thinking about it.

“Once the season ends, typically, in the fall I start thinking about what I need to do for Augusta. I’ve done that for 20 years.”

Of course, this is all contingent on his back holding up after two surgeries and a year-plus-long layoff from tournament golf. Woods will tee it up this weekend in San Diego, then three times in February – in Dubai, Los Angeles and Palm Beach, Fla.

It will be the most tournament golf he’s played since August 2015.

“That is a concern, no doubt about it, but I’m also looking forward to it,” he acknowledged. “I’ve sat out long enough here. Got my body in a pretty good state where I feel I can handle that workload. But I still gotta go out there and do it.

“… Feeling good about it and doing it is two totally different things.”

While he dusted off the cobwebs in his “official” return to tournament play in December, when he tied for 15th in a 17-player field at the Hero World Challenge, that event is more a high-stakes exhibition then an actual tournament.

Thursday the real test begins when he tees off at Torrey Pines, a course where he’s won eight times, including the last of his 14 major title victories.

In the run-up to his return, Woods said he has played about four to five times a week. That preparation, while not exactly tournament play, has been crucial.

“If my back feels good, I know I can prepare, I know I can play. I know how to shoot scores,” he said. “But I need to have my health in a state where I can prepare to get my game ready to play at an elite level.”

If all goes well – if that back holds up – he’ll be at Augusta in April.

“I’d love to play [the Masters],” he said. “I’d love to win. I’ve won it four times. Hopefully I can add a fifth.”

Jay Hart

Yahoo Sports
Yahoo Sports US January 23, 2017