AUGUSTA, Ga. – On the way from the 18th green to the scoring area on Thursday afternoon at Augusta National, Ian Woosnam paused in the shade under the large oak tree that adjoins the clubhouse, put his hands on his knees and breathed a few Take it deep.
« Whoa, man, » said the exhausted 63-year-old a few moments later after signing for 4-over 76 in the opening round of his 32nd Masters tournament.
Woosnam was » « damn happy » with how the day went on the scorecard – he made three birdies to make up for some mistakes mainly caused by his deteriorating length on a 7.475 yard major layout that played as tight and fast as the Masters 1991 champion has ever seen it. But he was in obvious pain after worsening a right groin injury during the lap.
« I was thinking of going after eleven, but I hit pretty well you know, » said Woosnam, who was up sore muscles in the past few months trying to swing faster in preparation for the Masters. “It bothered me all day yesterday from the first shot and it only got worse. And it’s in a place where it won’t go away like that. I tore a muscle or something.
Woosnam has ankylosing spondylitis, a rare arthritis that causes discomfort and stiffness in the spine. However, since the operation in January 2019, his back has been feeling better. He said on Monday his body felt as good as it has for years. but that was a few laps around hilly Augusta National. He didn’t even go on Wednesday.
Twice earlier, in 2016 and two years ago, Woosnam said he would withdraw from this tournament. But he has found his way back twice.
« This 30 year [since my win] I definitely wanted to do it, » said Woosnam. “I definitely wanted to play this year and see how I ran and how I feel tomorrow. I keep saying it. I know and I feel like I can still play well enough, but I just can’t get my body good enough to play it.
“I’m just looking forward to it and suddenly it’s the same old thing. After the back surgery I feel pretty good and then I come to this place and it just tears me apart. “
Now the question is whether Woosnam will make it through another round or not. He didn’t seem particularly confident on Thursday, but he reckoned he’d probably have a tough time. He played too well « on one leg » to start this tournament not to at least try to secure it.
« Now that I’m stupid, I’ll most likely play out, » he said, « and if it’s not playable, I just have to come in. »
BY Ryan Lavner
FROM Golf Channel Digital
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