Woods and Thomas, along with Fred Couples, comprised the first group off the 10th tee at Augusta National Monday morning. On the surface, an enviable pairing for Thomas, who's making his fourth career start at the tournament; aside from Phil Mickelson, what better Masters veterans—Woods a three-time champ, Couples with 20 top-25 finishes—could a fledgling talent seek for Augusta advice?
Unfortunately for Thomas, Tiger wasn't in a wisdom-imparting mood.
“Tiger probably isn’t as … I’m not trying to be mean, but he isn’t as helpful as Freddy,” Thomas said after Monday's practice round. “At this point he [Woods] doesn’t quite give as much information. I’ve picked Tiger’s brain enough around this place that he probably has told me everything he is going to tell me.”
Okay, not quite the "9&8" iciness we've seen from Tiger in the past. But also a sign that Woods very much considers himself a contender at this tournament, and views everyone else—Thomas included—as an adversary. A sentiment that could translate to its share of roars come the weekend.
As for Thomas, whose best finish at the Masters is a T-17, don't feel too bad for the 2017 PGA champ. Not only does he feel confident enough in his own strategy—"I truly do feel like I’ve played this place enough, and even though it’s only been a couple times, I’ve picked up on things pretty well," he said—Couples was also kind enough to give the 25-year-old the lowdown on his Augusta game plan.
Speaking of Couples...
Couples not planning on retiring...yet
There were whispers during last year's tournament, in which Couples demonstratively battled his recurring back pain to make the cut for the 30th time in his career, that the Hall of Famer was considering hanging up the proverbial spurs. He turns 60 this fall, and as Woods noted last year, Augusta National is becoming "a long golf course for Fred."
While Couples dispelled the rumors on Monday of an imminent Masters retirement, he also acknowledged that time is not on his side.
“I plan on playing a few more, but if it keeps playing this long we’ll see,” Couples told the Golf Channel's Rex Hoggardl's after the round.
Though the tournament and club don't force anyone to retire, former green-jacket winners are waving goodbye at earlier ages than years past, the course becoming too difficult and the players cognizant of avoiding a "Doug Ford" moment. But to his credit, Couples has been far from a ceremonial player with six top-20s this decade. This year marks Couples' 34th Masters; only Jack Nicklaus has made more weekends than "Boom Boom" in tournament history.