Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy fly PGA Tour flag at Masters practiceApril 4, 2023
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy launched a charm offensive ahead of this week’s Masters as they flew the proverbial PGA Tour flag during a practice round at Augusta National on Monday while a number of LIV Golf players also began their preparations.
There is some added intrigue ahead of this year’s Masters as it will be the first since the launch of the controversial LIV Golf circuit last June and will feature competitors from both circuits on one of the game’s most hallowed layouts.
Woods and McIlroy, two of golf’s biggest names who have both been vocal opponents of LIV Golf, went out off the 10th tee under overcast skies alongside former Masters champion Fred Couples and South Korea’s Tom Kim.
The group were cheered at every turn, with perhaps the loudest when they opted to partake in a Masters practice-round tradition and tried in unison to purposefully skip their balls across the pond at the par-three 16th.
There are 18 LIV Golf competitors at this year’s Masters, including 2020 champion Dustin Johnson, and while all did not schedule practice rounds on Monday those who did were also greeted warmly by the patrons.
Former word number one Johnson, wearing a shirt with the logo of the 4Aces team he captains on LIV Golf, practised with current PGA Tour players Kevin Kisner, Brian Harman and Gary Woodland.
Johnson, who won the inaugural season-long LIV Golf individual championship, was excited to reconnect with his former PGA Tour peers and said he does not feel any different being at Augusta National compared to years past.
“For me it’s the same. All my buddies are still my buddies, and we play, and it’s still golf. So it doesn’t matter where you play at,” said Johnson.
“I still play golf for a living. I’m here at the Masters and enjoying this week. This week’s all about Augusta.”
Johnson, who has played in each of LIV Golf’s three events this year, also does not expect there to be any competitive issues as he gets ready to compete with PGA Tour players for the first time since the British Open last July.
“I played a long time with all these guys. So if I’m playing how I should, yeah, I can — I’ll be right there at the end,” said Johnson.