AUGUSTA, Ga. – Joaquín Niemann could not hear his caddy.
He had done another Master Tournament. He navigated the bush of spectators. Now that the 23-year-old Chilean was on his first shirt at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday, Gary Matthews, who was carrying a Niemann bag, may be anywhere else.
That’s what life is like playing with Tiger Woods.
It was only a few weeks ago that Woods, when doctors cut off his leg after a car accident last year, looked like he was going to lose the Masters. But his decision to play in the tournament, his first professional competition since November 2020, immediately transformed how the audience would proceed, and he won the Augusta National Masters five times alongside any player.
Woods ’presence in a pair or team has long defined the atmosphere of playing around any part of the tournament, with his fans, and often with curiosity, offering a lot of encouragement, comments, cameras, buzz and analysis. The focus, it seems, is barely deviating from it, if it does.
And so chaos, or anyone who serves chaos on a golf course, Fred Couples – the Masters Champion, once the world’s best golfer and a hero for baby boomer champions – can look more like a dominant man. Stewart Cink, the British Open champion and one of the best golfers of his time, could turn it into an exciting bonus, or even Francesco Molinari, the British Open winner, something less than a couple’s name mark.
“It’s very different when you play Tiger anywhere, and Augusta National is no different,” said Cink, who has seen Woods up close at the Masters and had a hole at No. 16 on Friday. .
Woods, who won the first green jacket at the Masters 25 years ago, has long run one of August’s largest galleries, and other champions are sure that the “Tiger Rumble” among the pines sounds different than cheering for other players. And Phil Mickelson, one of Woods ’rivals of attention and love, outside of this year’s Masters, Woods is even more the player with the most followers around August this week.
The insanity of this particularly busy week began before Niemann, Woods and Louis Oosthuizen looked at No. 1 445 meters on Thursday. The pair who played their 37th Masters this week teamed up with Woods for training rounds and stayed on Monday, the first day the course was open to spectators.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. The pair said Woods fans had found a way to reach a career that was “only four deep”.
He added: “They wanted to see a big guy, and they saw him, and they saw good golf. He gets that here all the time.”
But frequency does not necessarily make it easier for others to fulfill their own intentions.
“The biggest thing is just the confusion of the troop’s energy and reaction intensity and position to get in the way,” said Cink, who equaled Augustan’s third best finish in 2008. “There’s a lot of movement out there.”
Cink said Woods tried to be the usual direct fighter by allowing others to end up making a hole, keeping the crowd a little longer.
“When you play with him, he’s busy, he’s noisy,” said Molinari, who won the 2018 British Open at Carnoustie when he paired with Woods and the following year played with Woods on Sunday in August. “I don’t think it makes a big difference to be here or elsewhere.”
Woods, as powerful as he is, has only great control.
On Thursday, spectators began to gather around the first tee box to start their tournament before leaving the Woods club. He flew over a drone. At least one man shouted “let’s go Tiger!” he shouted. at least twice, though it was hard to tell in a crowd that seemed to be 25 feet deep in some places, so people could see Woods (or maybe just the top of his cap) when he made his first shot.
Niemann and Oosthuizen received a polite and measured welcome from the crowd, which Woods, who had hit first, as soon as he finished rocking the driver, began to break, better to go down the street or to the second green area, to see. Woods again.
The hole calmed down enough in the later holes, Niemann finally said he could hear Matthews as he played from the bottom three of 69. He said he also came in search of pleasure in a huge crowd.
“I was always told to make sure you try to finish before Tiger, so people don’t start moving,” Niemann said. “But they were respectful, so it was a nice turn.”
Daniel Berger suggested that he was playing worse in front of him than being paired with Woods.
“If you’re one or two before him, it’s always a fight with people trying to run to see him,” said Berger, who made his 2016 Masters debut.
Padraig Harrington, another winner of the British Open with Woods, made a similar assessment.
“It’s very difficult if you’re a team ahead of him,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. When you’re playing with him at a depth of 20, you can’t hear anything, because a lot is happening. “
But Harrington, who has won both the Open and the PGA Championship, had no complaints about his life as a couple playing with Woods.
“It’s actually one of the easiest to play in all these years,” he said. “He’s a very simple guy to play with. He plays golf. “Good shot” means only when you make a good shot. There’s no mixing, no rubbish. ‘
Training rounds, of course, are less stressful, and the pair, who have been around Woods for a long time and are now in the dark of their careers, have indicated that he sometimes plays on the court jester. He appeared this week when he played with the Woods pair, which he won in August in 1992, and with Justin Thomas, who was born the following year and was 3 years old when Woods first won the Masters.
“I like to tell stories, but it’s usually very quiet on t-shirts and they let me do their job, and as soon as I get off the street there’s going to be a story about this guy or that guy or me or Tiger.” The couple, who said Woods and Thomas were the last to hit, are remembered this week. “Then we laugh until we get to a ball.”
The crowd is always thick, and always looking, and always bouncing. But Couples said playing with Woods and Thomas has a benefit, aside from all the theater and distractions.
“It’s nice because they only want to play nine holes,” the 62-year-old said. “I’m very good with nine holes.”