The first major golf tournament of the year, the
Masters, tees off Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia
with world number one Tiger Woods looking for a fifth Masters title.
Woods is playing in his first major
tournament since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery.
The last time Tiger Woods won a major tournament, his left knee was in excruciating pain. Woods had stress fractures and a torn cruciate ligament in the joint, but was still able to win the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines last June in a 19-hole playoff.
Tiger underwent reconstructive knee surgery, and was off the golf course for nearly eight months. He returned to play at the Accenture Match Play championship, but lost to South African Tim Clark in the second round in February.
In Tiger's next tournament - the CA Championships in Miami last month - he finished tied for ninth. Then he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational March 29th, rolling in a birdie putt on the final hole to take the title. Woods says he never lost his competitive fire during his rehabilitation, and he is ready to take on the world.
"I was surprised how fast I got the feeling," Woods said. "It came back to me at the [Accenture] Match play." Tiger said he feels just like he did when he prepared for other major tournaments.
For Tiger to win a fifth Masters title, he will have to beat the best players in the world, including two-time Masters winner and countryman Phil Mickelson. The man known on the tour as "Lefty" won the CA Championships in March and says he is confident headed into this week's event.
"I feel very comfortable and confident in my game and in my equipment. And I feel like I'll be able to in the next five years achieve levels of play that I haven't achieved earlier in my career," he said.
Mickelson said he doesn't want any uncertainties in his path to see how far he can go in golf.
Three straight for Harrington?
Three-time major tournament winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland will try to win his first Green Jacket this week. Harrington won the British Open and the PGA last year and will be going for his third straight major title. But the Irishman says any time he plays in a grand slam event, there's pressure.
"It's a major. It's a chance to win another
major," he said. "It's a chance to win the Masters. All those things bring their
The Irishman said the chance to win his third straight major adds some pressure, but all major tournaments have pressure, especially the Masters.
Harrington will tee off with former Masters winner Mike Weir of Canada and Ryuji Imada of Japan. Third-ranked Sergio Garcia will play with Australia's Stuart Appleby and Britain's Oliver Wilson.
The tournament is being played on the Augusta National Golf
Club course, a par-72 layout that measures 6,799 meters. Last year,
Trevor Immelmann of South Africa won the title by three strokes over
Tiger Woods. But this year, Woods has something to prove - that he is
still the man to beat any time he steps on the course.