Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

China's Li thrilled to play alongside golf legend Tiger Woods at Masters

China's Li thrilled to play alongside golf legend Tiger Woods at Masters

But I mean, it's golf.

"It was incredible to see, and I think that it adds to the allure of Augusta National and the Masters tournament, and I think what they have done for women's golf is a huge step in the right direction".

"It is my favorite tournament, and I am quite lucky to have the chance to play it", said Li, who has just completed a series of North American tournaments.

"He'll be licking his lips about the four golf courses at the four majors this year and I'll be really, really surprised if he doesn't win another major in the next couple of years".

"I've got a pretty good library in my head of how to play the golf course", said Woods, who past year also briefly led the Open before finishing tied sixth and was runner up at the US PGA.

"It proved to me that I could win again", Woods said.

"Our focus throughout our history has been on, as far as our efforts to promote the game outside of the Masters have always been, on amateur golf", Augusta National chairperson Fred Ridley said on the eve of the Masters on Wednesday.

Nowhere does the Tiger mystique hang over an event more than at the Masters. Consider that the long reach of the late Bobby Jones, generally regarded as the most accomplished amateur golfer ever to play the game.

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That means the purse for the champion is the same sum as defending champion Patrick Reed received after his impressive final round performance previous year.

Since putting himself on the brink of the grand slam when he won the 2014 Open Championship, McIlroy has struggled to properly contend despite finishing in the top 10 each time. Just 87 players are competing this year at Augusta National, and you can break that number down further, excluding numerous past champions (seven are over 50) and the six amateurs, not to mention a collection of lower ranking or struggling tour professionals, and you're left with only around half the field who could genuinely claim victory, but even a fair bunch of them can be considered unlikely winners at best.

"I think he's bubbling away and I'm hoping he'll be in contention".

Among other fancied contenders in the 87-man field - the smallest since 1997 - is England's Justin Rose, who regained his world No.1 crown from Dustin Johnson at the beginning of the week and is a two-time runner-up.

Woods, 43, admits he would never have foreseen the major drought that has followed his 14th major victory at the 2008 US Open.

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"Hopefully this year, I put myself there again and, hopefully, I'll get it done".

Ian Poulter also has three top-6 finishes, albeit in 13 appearances at Augusta, but missed the event in 2017, and had 40+ finishes either side.

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