AUGUSTA, Ga. — For the second time in the past three days, Fred Couples had a front-row seat to the Tiger Woods Comeback Show at Augusta National, playing nine more holes with him on Wednesday in Woods’ final prep before Thursday’s Masters opening round.

And, as the reviews were raves after the two played alongside Justin Thomas on Monday and Wednesday, the 62-year-old Couples had more glowing things to say about Woods’ game as he makes his remarkable comeback to competitive golf fewer than 14 months removed from the car crash that nearly cost him his leg.

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“He looked the exact same, maybe a little better, a little sharper,” Couples said of Woods, comparing Monday to Wednesday. “Tiger is Tiger. I said it on Monday that he’s not like a lot of us where I’ve been injured even at age 35 and I go play just to play. He’s not going to do that. He’s won so many times, and he’s just not a guy to go do something mediocre. He’ll compete, and he’ll be ready to roll.”

Asked about the pain Woods is playing with, Couples said, “He plays in lots of pain lots of times. It’s amazing he’s here. We all know that. But the pain he has sometimes is a lot more, but he’s younger and you get used to the pain.”

Couples said, after a lot of laughing and joking on Monday, Woods’ demeanor on Wednesday was more serious and focused.

“He doesn’t want to play [just] to play,” Couples said. “He can play at home. He can enjoy his kids, play with them every single day and have the time of his life.”

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Fred Couples of the United States, caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay, Tiger Woods of the United States, caddie George Downing, Justin Thomas of the United States and caddie Joe LaCava walk off of the 18th green during a practice round.Source: AFP

Couples said Woods “hit a great iron on 1″’ and on No. 13 he “hooked it around the corner.”

“He’s Tiger Woods, so I’m not worried about watching him hit a ball ever because he’s the best player I’ve ever seen play,” Couples went on. “It’s a miraculous thing … 14 months ago (after his accident) I’m bawling like a baby every day, and now you pair with him and he looks strong.

“I know the leg is hurt, but he’s driving it with J.T. Maybe J.T. (Wednesday) was a little more pumped up, got him a few times, but he’s hitting it plenty far enough to play this course, and he plays this course as well as (anyone) … and he’s won here a bunch. He knows what to do. He’s a great player, and I think it’s amazing for him to be out here.”

The crowds following Woods’ every move have made every hole a mob scene.“On Monday I’ve never seen anything like it,” Couples said. “I’ve been in the last group here, won here. No. 8, No. 7 way back in the corner, and there’s ten deep. They wanted to see the big guy, and they saw him, and they saw good golf.”



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