Tiger Woods Finishes First Round of 2022 Masters -1, S.J. Im Leads Pack

The iconic golfer thrilled fans when he announced that he'd play in the major tournament, his first since a terrifying car accident in 2021

Tiger Woods plays his shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 07, 2022
Tiger Woods. Photo: David Cannon/Getty

Tiger Woods is back.

The iconic golfer completed the first round of the Masters tournament on Thursday, finishing his round -1, tied for 10th place. He trails behind leaders S.J. Im, who is -5, and Cameron Smith, who finished -4.

Woods, 46, teed off just after 11 a.m. EST on Thursday, paired with Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquin Niemann.

Woods surprised golf fans when he announced last weekend that he was in Augusta, Georgia, with plans to attempt to mount a PGA Tour comeback at the tournament. The athlete was injured in a car accident in early 2021, suffering fractures to the upper and lower portions of his tibia and fibular bones, which were stabilized with a rod. In the year since, he previously seemed hesitant to assign a timeline to a return to professional golf, should he be able to make one.

Until now, of course.

"People have no idea how hard it's been," Woods said of his recovery to reporters after Thursday's round. "My team does, they've worked with me every single day. … You should've seen how my leg looked to where it's at now."

He added, "To get from there to here, it was no easy task."

Tiger Woods lines up a putt on the sixth green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 07, 2022
Tiger Woods. Jamie Squire/Getty

After a few practice rounds, Woods told reporters on Tuesday, "As of right now, I feel I am going to play. I am going to play nine more holes tomorrow. My recovery has been good. I'm very excited about how I've recovered ... My team has been fantastic."

When asked if Woods thinks he can win the Masters "this week," he responded: "I do ... I can hit it just fine."

The Masters return is a year earlier than a member of the golfer's team recently told PEOPLE was Woods' initial goal.

"He has a new goal: to be the oldest winner at the Masters," the source said. "Jack Nicklaus won when he was 46. Tiger will be 47 next year when he competes, and that's the newest record he is going for. He'll stop at nothing to accomplish it."

And those close to Woods said that he's determined to be strong in his return.

"Tiger was known for his focus before, but now he's learned to focus through terrible pain," the source explained. "And now that the pain has mostly faded, that focus is still there. He's going to be a force when he returns to the game. He's going to dominate."

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