TIGER Woods insists he is “trying everything” to be able to play at the Masters at Augusta National next month.
Woods has not featured at a competitive event since a back injury forced him to withdraw from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic before the start of his second round on February 3.
But the 41-year-old, who has won the Masters on four occasions, is hoping to return in time for the first major championship of the year, which begins on April 6.
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When asked whether he thinks he will get a chance to play at the Masters this year, Woods told Good Morning America: “God, I hope so.
“I’m trying. I’m trying everything extra to be able to get back and play.
“I love that event. It’s meant so much to me in my life. It was the first major that I ever played, back in ‘95. It has so much history and meaning to me, I’d love to get back.
“I need to get back physically. I know that the mind is sharp, I just need to get the body willing to do it.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s Marc Leishman produced a brilliant finish to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational as Rory McIlroy’s bid for a remarkable victory faltered at the final hurdle.
Leishman carded a closing 69 at Bay Hill to claim his second PGA Tour title by a single shot from Americans Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman, with McIlroy a shot further back alongside England’s Tyrrell Hatton.
An eagle from 50 feet on the 16th gave Leishman the lead for the first time and the 33-year-old, who lost a play-off for the Open Championship in 2015, scrambled pars on the last two holes to set the clubhouse target on 11 under par.
Kisner was unable to find the birdie he needed to force a play-off in the closing stretch, while Hoffman bogeyed the 17th but birdied the last to secure a share of second.
McIlroy had been four over par after two holes of his second round and despite a flawless 65 on Saturday, started the final day five shots off the lead shared by Kisner and Hoffman.
But by the time he had recorded his seventh birdie of the day on the 16th, the four-time major winner had moved into a share of the lead with the American pair.
However, McIlroy then heard the roar as Leishman made his unlikely eagle on 16 and, knowing he needed to make a birdie, charged his first putt four feet past the hole and missed the return.
“I thought going out today if I could shoot anything in the 60s it would be a good score,” McIlroy said after signing for a closing 69. “Obviously I was trying to shoot a couple lower than that but overall played well, I’m really pleased with how I went this weekend and can take a lot of positives from it.”
McIlroy added: “But it’s been a good week and if anything, to be one over after two rounds and come up like this, it’s a great weekend.”
McIlroy had the consolation of moving to second in the world rankings yesterday.