The 1997 Masters, when a 21-year-old Tiger Woods won his first major and sparked a unique superstardom, seems so long ago now.
While promoting his new memoir on that historic event, Woods visited Good Morning America Monday and gave an update on his status for the upcoming tournament. Host Michael Strahan wanted to know what most golf fans always want to know at this time every year: Will he play at Augusta? Woods tried to sound optimistic in his reply, but it came out pitiable:
"God, I hope so," Woods said. "I'm trying. I'm trying everything just to be able to get back and play."
Woods also admitted that his "priorities have changed," that he's more involved in his kids' lives than ever, and that he just doesn't have the time to work as hard as he wants to be in playing shape. "That's a good thing," Woods said, and at face value, he's not wrong. It's just that it's weird to hear those words coming out of Tiger's mouth. He dominated the sport with an intensity and competitive drive that few in sports possess and now he's out here talking about his kids and sounding like a guy who wants to manage the golf world's expectations of him.
The Masters begins in less than three weeks, on April 6. Golf magazine says a return seems unlikely right now for Woods, who has been battling injuries (physical and otherwise) for years:
Woods is reportedly still working his body into shape, most recently pulling out of the Genesis Open and Honda Classic last month. Recent reports offered anonymous sources that said Woods was nowhere near ready to play the event in early April. His agent would dispel those reports. Meanwhile, Woods's mindset hasn't changed.
"The mind is sharp. I just need to get the body willing to do it."
That sounds like something an ailing grandparent would say. Now 41 years old, Woods has not won at Augusta since 2005, and has missed the tournament twice in the past three years. He finished tied for 17th in 2015.