AUGUSTA -- Fellow competitors discuss the return of Tiger Woods:
Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the rankings:
"He's got a little bit of an intimidation factor still. But it is Tiger Woods. He's probably one of the best players to ever play the game. So you would have to think he's going to figure out a way to get it back. He has. He's played pretty well this year so far and -- but I know Tiger well, and I played a lot of golf with him and -- but I can't really worry about what Tiger's doing. I got enough to worry about with myself."
Phil Mickelson, three-time Masters winner:
"I don't know enough about the medical elements to say I'm surprised or not, but I know that he had a big challenge, but the game for him looks easy. He's got the shot making and he's already hit all these great shots for so many years that I would think it would be easier to get it back than to find it for the first time. So it's not that surprising to me. And in that regard, what's surprising is his speed because I thought with the injuries his speed might not be as great. But some things never change and I can't keep it up with him."
Rory McIlroy, looking for career grand slam with a Masters win:
"He's got a great chance. Look at how he's played the last few weeks. He's had four wins here. I mean, was it 2010 he hadn't played in a few months and this was his first start back and finished fourth. He's very comfortable around this golf course, and his game is right there. I watched a little bit of his press conference before I came in here and talking about how he's got his speed back, and it's a big golf course, and it might be even longer during the week with the rain that's forecasted. And for him to be able to get around this place without any fears of being -- it being too long or not having enough speed, yeah, anytime Tiger Woods is healthy and in this sort of form, he's dangerous at any golf tournament. But given his history here, I think even more so."
Justin Thomas, ranked No. 2 in the world with two wins and five top-10s this season on the PGA Tour:
"I know he wants to make another run at us young guns. And I shouldn't say -- I mean, some older guys have been winning lately, so I guess we need to try to get our little streak back. But, no, it's great for golf, it's great for him. I'm happy for him. I cherish the opportunity to potentially be going down the stretch with him to win a golf tournament or potentially a major."
Justin Rose, twice a runner-up in Augusta in past three years and he has four top 10s including a victory this season on the PGA Tour:
"Obviously when Tiger walked onto the range (Monday), you can tell there's an anticipation and an excitement from the crowd to watch him compete again."
Rickie Fowler, two top 10s this season, but no victories and hasn't played well since early January:
"It's been fun to see him back healthy enjoying playing the game of golf, not just trying to work through what he was able to do with his body and how he was able to move. To see him free, healthy, and having fun, it's nice to see him enjoying it. ... Obviously he knows how to win, he's not scared when he's in the situation of in contention on the weekends. Obviously getting back used to it since he hasn't been there as much over the last few years, with being kind of on the sidelines with things. He's going to win at some point. I think that's pretty clear to everyone with the way he's played and continued to get better. So it's great for the game to have him back. ... I would love to see him play well, just hopefully I can play a little bit better."
Bubba Watson, twice a Masters champ and a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season:
"Well, it's great for the game of golf. ... There's nothing but great things when he's healthy. I mean, what he's been able to do with the on-and-off the course to help the game of golf and help young people, being on course and winning again is going to just help that many more people love the game of golf but also help in different many ways throughout the world."
This article is written by Ray Cox from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCredpublisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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