Woods, McIlroy cool in Masters glare

Shirley: Putting on the green jacket is 'amazing' but also plenty to deal with

In 2018, Woods finished tied sixth at the British Open and second at the PGA before he won the Tour Championship for his 80th PGA Tour title.

As if to prove it wasn't a fluke, Nicklaus was contending for the lead on the weekend a dozen years later before settling for sixth place, a feat that was nearly as remarkable as his sixth win.

Now, having played for over a year without any real issues with his back, the target is for Woods to try and win another major with more expectation this time around.

"It's quite unreal for myself to be here, to play golf here".

The reasons Woods hasn't, of course, have been well documented over the years.

However, McIlroy has been in sublime form this season, culminating in victory in the Players Championship at Sawgrass, and many suspect this is the week he will add to his tally of four majors for the first time since 2014. But a victory in the Tour Championship last year not only showed he can still compete and win at the highest level but gave Woods some sorely needed confidence heading into the first major of the year.

"I would just never rule him [Woods] out". It might start later in the year. "My routine now consists of meditation, juggling and mind training, doing all the stuff to get you in the right place".

He said whether a greater impact would be made by hosting the best women professionals was "a matter of opinion" and the Masters remains the "epicenter" of Augusta National's competitive tournament administration.

The last three groups going out on Thursday promise to be particularly compelling, with world number two Dustin Johnson joining Bryson DeChambeau and 2011 Masters runner-up Jason Day on the course at 1:38 p.m. ET. I think he's going to relish the fact that his iron play is so good because it's so crucial.

"Hopefully this year, I put myself there again and, hopefully, I'll get it done".

Then there's the powerful Johnson himself, a two-time victor already this year with a best of fourth at Augusta.

Brooks Koepka, who out-duelled Woods on Sunday to win last year's PGA, knows the excitement a Woods major win would bring.

Ian Poulter also has three top-6 finishes, albeit in 13 appearances at Augusta, but missed the event in 2017, and had 40+ finishes either side.

That means the purse for the champion is the same sum as defending champion Patrick Reed received after his impressive final round performance previous year.

The Masters Tournament has the most exclusive and limited of fields. I get a rush out of pulling off shots that sometimes I only dreamed about pulling off, and to see some of the reactions.

"Every time I come out here and practise, I pick up a little something here or there that I did not know on how to play a certain shot from a certain position to a certain pin".

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