Ian Woosnam fights through groin injury, hopes to get through another Masters round

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – On his way from the 18th green to the scoring area Thursday afternoon at Augusta National, Ian Woosnam stopped in the shade underneath the big oak tree that abuts the clubhouse, put his hands on his knees and took a few deep breaths.

“Whoa, man,” the exhausted 63-year-old said a few moments later after signing for 4-over 76 in the opening round of his 32nd Masters Tournament.

Woosnam was “pretty damned pleased” with how the day went on the scorecard – he made three birdies to offset some mistakes brought mostly on by his deteriorating length on a 7,475-yard major layout that was playing as firm and fast as the 1991 Masters champion has ever seen it. But he was in obvious pain after re-aggravating a right groin injury during the round.

“I was thinking of coming in after 11, but I was scoring quite well, you know,” said Woosnam, who injured his muscle in recent months while trying to swing faster in preparation for the Masters. “It had been bothering me all day yesterday from the first shot really, and it just got worse. And it’s in a place where it’s not going to go away like that. I’ve tore a muscle or something.

Woosnam suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, a rare type of arthritis that causes discomfort and stiffness in the spine, but his back has been doing better since having surgery in January 2019. He said on Monday that his body felt as good as it had in years, but that was before a few rounds around hilly Augusta National. He didn’t even head out on the course Wednesday.

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Twice before, in 2016 and two years ago, Woosnam declared he would retire from this tournament. But he’s twice found his way back.

“With this being my 30th year [since my win] I definitely wanted to make this,” Woosnam said. “I wanted to definitely play this year and see how I went and see how I feel tomorrow. I keep saying it. I know, and I just feel like I can still play good enough, but I just can’t get my body good enough to play it.

“Plain looking forward to it, and all of a sudden it’s the same old thing. After the back operation I feel pretty good and then I get to this place and it just tears me apart.”

Now, the question is whether or not Woosnam will make it through another round. He didn’t seem overly confident on Thursday, but he reckoned that he probably would tough it out. He played too well “on one leg” to begin this tournament to not at least try to back it up.

“Well, being that I’m stupid, I’ll most probably play, get out there,” he said, “and if it is unplayable, I’ll just have to come in.”