Golf fans react to Tiger Woods during Masters practice round: 'He's buff'


The only sound between the Hole 8 green and Hole 9 tee box was the rustle of pine needles and scurrying of shoes across freshly manicured grass during an overcast Tuesday morning at Augusta National Golf Club. 

Golf fans from far and wide were moving as fast as they can – no running at the Masters – to get just the right spot by the ninth tee box to await the threesome that captivated the entire day, led by five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods. 

Woods’ presence is everywhere. Fans wear sweaters with a tiger swinging a club, don his famous “Sunday Red” outfit from head to toe, and there are likely hundreds of conversations about him leading into the week. 

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Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia.

As he made his multiple practice putts and chips from the eighth green and started walking toward the ninth tee, the sounds switched to whispered excitement. 

“There he is, there he is,” said virtually everyone, no matter if they were talking to family, friends or a stranger. 

Someone bold enough to speak over the murmurs shouted, “C’mon now Tiger!” which led to whistles and cheers. Justin Thomas, a close friend of Woods, was in the group with him for the nine holes of the day, while 1992 Masters winner and fan-favorite Fred Couples – “Boom Boom” as he is affectionately known – joined as well. 

As everyone picks the club they want to use on Hole 9 — the par-4, 460-yard hole that heads downhill with a narrow opening to its fairway with trees on either side – everyone who has been following Woods, and those who realized he was on the tee, picked their spot to stand and watched as he teed off. It was the final tee shot he would hit on a day when fans saw confident play from the golfer everyone wants to see make the cut this week. 

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“There’s a little bit,” Kent Halder from Iowa told Fox News Digital when asked if he noticed a limp from Woods earlier in the practice round, “but boy is he in shape. He’s buff. He still looks like a defensive back [in the NFL], no doubt about it.”

Woods wasted no time once he picked out his line and stepped up to the ball. He made solid contact, and all heads flipped from the tee box to finding it in the air heading down nine. There were some cheers like a normal tournament round when Woods hit it, but he was not too satisfied. It cut into the trees on the right side, and though Woods would find it hit a tree and landed in the fairway, he teed up again, this time hitting it the way he wanted. 

Matt Myers from Dayton, Ohio, knew he had to see Woods on his first trip to Augusta after winning the coveted ticket lottery. Like Halder was, Myers was focused on Woods’ health, which has played a major factor in him not participating in many tournaments over the past few years. However, the Masters has been the exception for Woods, who prepares well before the week begins to be able to play.

“He looks like he’s walking around just fine,” Myers said as Woods walked next to Couples, laughing and talking his way to his approach shot. “I think the big concern is can he survive four days of doing this? I think he’ll be able to.”

Tiger Woods smiles on course

Tiger Woods of the United States reacts on the eighth hole during a practice round prior to the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Halder said the same. 

“I’m hoping he can compete and make the cut at least and play all four days. Stay healthy during the event,” he explained. “It’ll be tough walking this course, so hopefully they can manage that. With his previous events, having to pull out, it’ll be wonderful to see him play all 72 holes.”

Like his tee shot, Woods quickly stepped up to his shot as the large contingent following him down the ninth fairway stopped in their tracks. He had a three-quarters swing and appeared to catch the ball a bit thin off the fairway, landing it six or seven yards short of the green lined with two bunkers on its left. Thomas and Couples both got on without a problem, but Woods was not kicking himself. After all, it was just practice. 

He was ready to hit his chip shot, picking out the spot he wanted to hit behind it and let it check with backspin to run it toward the hole. He got it within four feet after making crisp contact, and fans cheered like it was a Thursday round where he had a chance to save par. 

The greens are where every golfer gets extra work during practice rounds, and Woods, Thomas and Couples all showcased that, tossing multiple golf balls down to get the different angulations, seeing what they might have to do come time for those putts to count. Long, short, up and down hills, on the fringe and further off, Woods hit them all as fans continued to crowd the area around the green. 

For many, a one-day pass to witness Woods, even in a practice round, was like Sunday during the tournament. There was a tense air for fans every time his clubs were placed behind the ball. However, for Woods himself, he seemed confident and relaxed. His post-round press conference proved that to be the case. 

“If everything comes together, I think I can get one more,” he told reporters. 

Ask any golfer, and they will say coming to Augusta is not just to enjoy golf heaven – they want to win the tournament. For Woods, who already has five Green Jackets, the thirst for another major will never leave him. 

However, through injuries and other ailments – he pulled out of the Genesis Invitational earlier this year due to flu-like symptoms – golf fans simply hope Woods can stay healthy enough to compete like his normal self. 

Tiger Woods looks on Augusta National course in black and white

Tiger Woods of the United States looks on during a practice round prior to the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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Tuesday’s practice round provided hope for those fans crossing their fingers, or praying at “Amen Corner,” that Woods can work some more magic at a course he’s created countless memories at for almost three decades.

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