The golf legend hit the green in an attempt to win his 16th major championship, sixth green jacket and 83rd PGA Tour event, and while he was not among the leaders after the morning session on Thursday, he entered the clubhouse T9 on the leaderboard after shooting a 1-under 71. Woods made par across his first five holes before scoring birdie on the sixth. He alternated between even and 1 under for the duration of the round with another set of five consecutive pars before a birdie on the 13th. While crucial par saves defined his round, a thoroughly rousing birdie on the 16th was the highlight of the afternoon.
Woods knocked his tee shot to 29 yards from the hole, lined up his putt and drained a beautiful effort punctuated by his signature fist pump to excite the crowd and return him to under par for the round.
He scored par on the final two holes -- with another save on the 18th -- to complete a vintage round that keeps him in contention despite his inability to separate from the pack.
For a guy who has won five green jackets over the course of his historic career and never missed a cut as a professional at the Masters, his swing and game continued to look sharp as they did throughout multiple practice rounds over the last week.
Remember: The last official tournament Woods played was, in fact, the 2020 Masters held in November that year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly after that, he had another surgery on his back and then spent the next year rehabbing both that as well as his right leg, going through physical therapy so intense, Woods said Tuesday he wouldn't wish it on anyone.
Despite all of this, Woods is at Augusta National to compete and win. He is not in the field simply to play the course at which he is the most famous. Woods winning this Masters would be a remarkable feat given how difficult it is to win this tournament when completely healthy and not 14 months removed from nearly losing a limb in an automobile accident. Woods kept himself in contention to do just that with his effort Thursday.
The 2022 Masters tournament runs through Sunday.
This story was originally published by CBS Sports on April 7, 2022 at 6:55 p.m. ET.