Woods can contend again says U.S. Open champion Rahm

The Masters
Golf - The Masters - Augusta National Golf Club - Augusta, Georgia, U.S. - April 10, 2022 Tiger Woods of the U.S. and Spain's Jon Rahm shake hands on the 18th green after finishing their final round REUTERS/Mike Segar

AUGUSTA, Ga., April 10 (Reuters) - Tiger Woods could contend again if his rehabilitation continues on track, said U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm after the pair played the final round at the Masters together on Sunday.

Though Woods finished among the also-rans after shooting consecutive rounds of 78 at Augusta National over the weekend, Rahm saw enough to think that the final chapter of the 15-times major winner's career has yet to be penned.

In his comeback some 14 months after incurring serious right leg and ankle injuries when he rolled his vehicle, Woods carried a limp around hilly Augusta National.

Although his most recent leg injuries, not to mention previous back issues, clearly inhibited his swing, Woods still demonstrated enough residual power to drive the ball 300 yards without too much effort.

"You can just tell that his leg is just not quite up there yet," said Spaniard Rahm. "He is limping on the course ... You can just tell that his leg and his body are just not used to walking this much.

"I believe if at home he can walk and get strength up and stamina in that sense, he will be able to be competitive again.

"This is the hardest walk all year. He will be able to go somewhere where it's a little easier to walk. It won't be as long, and I believe he'll be able to contend."

Former PGA Tour player Brad Hughes, now an instructor of several tour players, observed how Woods' swing has changed as a result of the car crash.

"He seems to have a hard time posting into his legs and using the body strongly, which is obviously from the lack of motion and strength in his legs," Hughes told Reuters.

"It's still not bad but looks rigid and not as explosive and synched as normal."

Woods plans to play the British Open at St. Andrews in July, but says his participation in the other two majors, May's PGA Championship and June's U.S. Open, depend on how his continuing rehabilitation goes.

The 46-year-old has clearly run out of time to win the three more majors needed to tie Jack Nicklaus's record.

More realistic a goal might be to claim one more regular PGA Tour event and surpass the record of 82 he shares with the late Sam Snead.

The majors are part of the PGA Tour schedule.

Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ken Ferris

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