Just two years earlier, Mr. Woods had ranked as low as 1,119th in the world. His comeback, especially considering his travails off the course, may have been the greatest in sports history.
Leaving the green, Mr. Woods lifted his son, Charlie, and his daughter, Sam, into his arms — a gesture that was a near repeat of the embrace Mr. Woods’s father, Earl, had given his son after the 1997 Masters, Mr. Woods’s first major victory.
He continued to be competitive with his peers in 2019, winning one more event, but the pandemic-shortened 2020 golf season took place with Mr. Woods often absent. Other than a tie for ninth in mid-January, he did not finish higher than a tie for 37th and appeared in just 10 events.
Mr. Woods has not played competitively since December. In January, he underwent a procedure on his back called a microdiscectomy, which was performed to remove a pressurized disc fragment that was pinching a nerve. On Sunday, while acting as the host of the Genesis Invitational PGA Tour event in Southern California, Mr. Woods was interviewed during the broadcast of the tournament. He said he had begun practicing and appeared at ease, smiling and joking with CBS announcers about his progress from the recent operation. But he offered no timetable for his return to competitive golf.
The Masters, though, remained central on Mr. Woods’s calendar. Asked whether he would compete in the event in April, Mr. Woods replied: “God, I hope so. I’ve got to get there first.” He added that he was “feeling fine, a little bit stiff” and was awaiting another M.R.I. scan to evaluate his progress. In the meantime, he said, he had been “still doing the mundane stuff that you have to do for rehab, the little things before you can start gravitating toward something a little more.”
Mr. Woods conceded that surgeons may have only so many more ways to help him. “This is the only back I’ve got,” he said. “I don’t have much more wiggle room there.”