“Up until a week ago, he didn’t know if he would even show up,” a member of the iconic athlete’s inner circle tells PEOPLE
After a T10 finish on Thursday, Tiger Woods joked with reporters that his evening would consist of “lots of ice.”
The iconic golfer is making a much-celebrated comeback after a scary car accident early last year left him with significant orthopedic injuries to his right leg, including fractures to his tibia and fibula bones.
As Woods’ second round at Augusta National came to an end on Friday, a member of the golfer’s inner circle tells PEOPLE that Woods “even showing up” to vie for another green jacket is a remarkable feat in itself.
The decision for Woods to play after over a year away from the PGA Tour, the insider says, was something that happened within the last week. “He had several days in a row with hardly any pain, and he felt like his swing had made huge strides in the past few weeks,” the source explains. “So he figured he’d show up and see what he could do. He knows it’s not the end of the world if he isn’t really a contender; no one is honestly expecting him to go back there and win it all.”
Continues the source, “Him just showing up is a victory. He just showed the grit he’s made of. That’s what he wanted to do. He still believes he can come back for 2023 and dominate.”
Woods, 46, is “feeling good,” the insider notes, and was happy with his first-round performance — though he experience some pain flare-ups. Augusta National is hilly, and golfers have noted the physical toll of hours spent trekking the course, even for the youngest of players. The athlete, himself, told reporters that he was “sore” on Thursday night.
“If you would have seen how my leg looked to where it’s at now, the pictures — some of the guys know. They’ve seen the pictures, and they’ve come over to the house and they’ve seen it,” Woods said. “To see where I’ve been, to get from there to here, it was no easy task.”
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