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Will Tiger Woods play at The Masters next week? Rory McIlroy has his say

Tiger Woods. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy admits it would be “phenomenal” to see Tiger Woods play next week’s Masters.

As Woods tested his fitness on Augusta’s slopes on Tuesday, the Holywood star played his second practice round in as many days, scouting the course changes alone.

“I think for golf and for the Masters Tournament and for everyone, to have Tiger there would be phenomenal,” McIlroy said ahead of the Valero Texas Open, where Graeme McDowell must win to make the Masters. “I think it just adds to the event.”

Having seen Woods (right) undergo a spinal fusion in 2017 and return in 2019 to win his fifth green jacket, McIlroy knows never to write off the 15-time major winner.

“The sheer will and perseverance, yeah, it is incredible,” he said. “If he comes back from this again, it’s just, he likes to prove people wrong, he likes to prove himself wrong, I think.”

McIlroy was pleased to see the changes at Augusta, especially the toughened 11th and 15th and new greens at the third, 13th and 17th.

“The surrounds of the green are much more penal, so that sort of bailout to the right is much more difficult than it used to be,” he said of the par-four 11th, which is 15 yards longer at 520 yards. “Overall, I think it’s going to play tougher than it has in previous years, and it was already one of the toughest holes on the course.”

Iron play, distance control and putting inside six feet are elements he wants to test under pressure at TPC San Antonio, where he was second in 2013.

“It’s a really good guide to see where my game is, especially if you’re having to hit shots under pressure to try to win a golf tournament,” McIlroy said. “That’s when things start to stand out and things that you maybe need to work on.

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