“Tiger — forget score. I don’t care. He might not say that to the media, but forget score, right? It’s pretty inspirational,” Watson added after he finished tied for 38th.
“Ten-year anniversary of my win, but watching him walk, gosh, I cry on a paper cut. For him to be able to walk and make the cut is pretty spectacular.”
Woods, 46, did swing a club in December at the PNC Championship, a 36-hole father-son competition in Florida where he and 13-year-old Charlie Woods finished second to the team of John Daly and John Daly II.
Woods’ playing in a major event like the Masters seemed impossible last year after a wipeout Feb. 23 on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County.
He rolled a Genesis GV80 near Hawthorne Boulevard at Blackhorse Road, on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes, officials said.
No one was hurt other than Woods, who suffered significant injuries to both legs.
There were no signs of impairment, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies at the scene said, although a blood test was never taken.
He was driving more than 80 mph, nearly double the posted 45 mph speed limit, officials said. Woods was still going 75 mph when he hit the tree as the SUV went airborne.
Although the SUV’s front end was almost totally smashed apart, much of the driver’s compartment remained intact, and Woods was wearing a seat belt.
A deputy said at the time that it was “very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive.”
The crash was deemed to have been caused by “driving at a speed unsafe for the road conditions and the inability to negotiate the curve of the roadway,” and no charges were filed.
Woods has acknowledged that he will never play full-time on the PGA Tour again.
He has 82 tournament titles, tied for most in PGA Tour history with Sam Snead. Throughout much of his storied career, it was considered a slam dunk that Woods would someday overtake Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles.
But in recent years, age, injuries and off-the-course issues have slowed Woods, whose name is usually mentioned at the top of any sentences — along with Nicklaus and Ben Hogan — debating who is the sport’s greatest player.
His storied career has drawn comparisons to Jackie Robinson, who broke major-league baseball’s color barrier, and fueled hopes that golf can attract a more diverse player pool.