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Ian Woosnam soaking up yet another Masters start

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Ian Woosnam doesn’t have a lot in widespread with Michael Jordan. But the 5-foot-4 Welshman does share one factor with the NBA legend: they’ve each come out of retirement twice.

The 63-year-old Woosnam, who received his lone main title 30 years in the past at Augusta National, will play his 32nd Masters Tournament after deciding to hold it up on a few events, citing continual ache from ankylosing spondylitis, a uncommon kind of arthritis that causes discomfort and stiffness within the backbone.

“That’s my last go,” he stated in 2016 after taking pictures 82-81. “I am not fit enough to play with my bad back. Every time I play this course it just seizes on me, and I can’t swing the club properly. I am in pain all the way round, so it’s time to say bye-bye.”

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Of course, it wasn’t. Woosie teed it up the following yr and in every of the 2 followings editions earlier than once more, in 2019, vowing to name it quits: “I think this is going to be my last time playing here,” he stated. “I’m just in too much pain.”

Yet, right here he’s – as soon as extra – within the Masters discipline after a one-year hiatus.

“I’ve always said if I could do something, I’d have another go,” stated Woosnam, who missed his first Masters in 12 years final November as he was nonetheless recovering from surgical procedure on his L3 and L4 vertebrae in January 2020.

Woosnam had the process in Cleveland, Ohio, earlier than heading to Barbados for his rehab. He was hitting balls lower than a month later, however then the pandemic occurred and Woosnam retreated again to the U.Ok., the place he’s spent most of his time till now. His final aggressive occasion was on the European Senior Tour in October 2019, and the additional day off has given Woosnam’s again an opportunity to get better.

“I’m not blowing it away,” stated Woosnam, who hasn’t made a minimize or damaged par at Augusta National since 2008. “I haven’t played in a tournament for 18 months … [The Masters is] not a bad place to start, is it? I’m going to be a little nervous.”

For Woosnam, he doesn’t hit the ball so far as he did in 1991, when he drove it over the green bunkers on the 18th gap to set up his successful par. “Now, I can’t even reach the bunkers,” he quipped.

But Jose Maria Olazabal supplied some nice perspective on Monday: “There’s a lot of reasons why we should be coming here. I mean, obviously, the golf course is beating us pretty well, but that is secondary at this time of our lives.”

That couldn’t be more true for Woosnam, who is aware of he’s not going to win this week. Heck, he’s simply hoping to “walk around for 36 holes … and just to try and play the course without being in any pain really, because I’ve been in pain for the last 20 years playing around here.”

Woosnam performed 9 holes Monday alongside Lee Westwood and Shane Lowry, and he stated he felt good afterward. It was his first motion round Augusta National since final Wednesday, when he performed together with his caddie and a member.

“Not very good,” Woosnam stated of his spherical, earlier than including: “That was good because we played really quick. I think we went around in three hours, but it was a bit of a marathon, and it was good. … If I can do it at that speed, then I know I can do it in whatever speed.”

Woosnam shall be hoping this match goes by at a snail’s tempo. He enjoys each second of Masters week, from the Champions Dinner to simply enjoying in entrance of the patrons. This yr, he’s even taken a while to take a look at a automobile assortment in Athens, the place he posted a photograph of himself sitting in the Batmobile from the 1989 Batman movie, and he threw some Twitter shade at Bubba Watson and the present era of Tour execs by taking another picture of himself, this time in entrance of a Waffle House after having fun with a bacon-and-egg sandwich.

“All the young guys go to Waffle House, and if they go to the Waffle House they always tweet it, so I thought I’d tweet it,” he stated. “But we blacked out the sign because it said, ‘We’re now hiring,’ something like that.”

Woosnam might have a while for an early-April facet job one in all nowadays, however for now, he doesn’t sound like a man prepared to provide up his spot within the Masters discipline.

“Hopefully,” he stated, “if it goes well, I can maybe come back for a few more years.”

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