Tiger Woods doesn’t have to win the Masters.  

He’s already built another layer on his legendary status as an athlete.

And yes, that’s despite shooting a third-round 78 on Saturday.

You don’t have to like Woods, but if you recognize what he’s done in the past and in particular this week, you can’t make this up.

He resurrected his game. Again.

Woods has cemented himself with Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Muhammad Ali as one of the greatest athletes of all time.

To make his 22nd consecutive cut at the Masters at Augusta this week when so many of the game’s greatest could not? And to do it 508 days after he shattered his leg and in his first competitive rounds of golf since the accident in his SUV 18 months ago? It is miraculous.

Again, he shattered his leg. Shattered.

Woods was looking at an amputation and considering a prosthetic. He ended up having multiple plates, a rod and screws inserted into his right leg.

Experts with decades of experience in his profession said he would likely never — that is never — play competitive PGA level golf again.

A man in his mid-40s, he suffered an injury that would maim him. It would dent and damage the pillar and foundation of his golf swing and permanently alter his gait and balance.

Then he began rehab and a comeback.

On Thursday, Woods shot a 1-under par 71 at Augusta with all the pressures that go with it, going against a field of the best players on the globe. 

By Friday afternoon, he’d made the cut by hitting 18 of 36 greens, the last 18 with distracting winds.

How hard is that?

Ask those who did not make the cut.

Ask the players he beat in the first round. That list includes defending champion Hideki Matsuyama, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas.

Think about that for a second.

In his first competitive round in a field of competitors, his 71 beat the Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 7-ranked players in the world on Thursday at Augusta.

By the time Friday afternoon came around, Woods was understandably walking gingerly around the very uneven course at Augusta. 

He shot two over 74 and made the cut.

Some of those who did not make the cut were Spieth, Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Justin Rose, Gary Woodland and Francesco Molinari, to name a few.

On Saturday, visibly favoring his leg, Woods found some of the same challenges that hit others such as Tony Finau, No. 23 in the World Golf rankings this past week. 

It was putting. 

Woods had a four-putt double bogey on the front nine and suffered some three-putts. That essentially killed his round and took him out of contention for Sunday’s final circuit.

It seems quite amazing that on Saturday, he hit the ball very well (his ball-striking was on par with many of the leaders), but his putting, which is one of his strengths, let him down. 

It was not his tender leg. 

After each round, trainers and medical personnel had him undergo extensive rehab techniques to keep swelling, inflammation and stiffness from setting in with his leg. 

He joked with the media that like NASCAR race cars, he’d go out and break his body and his team would fix it for the next day.

Woods explained his challenge with his swing, which he had to rebuild the past 18 months to get his swing speed back.

“It’s more the feels for distances and shot shapes,” Woods said Friday. “I don’t have to think so much about what do I need to do. I can just get up there and feel it and play using my hands again instead of just kind of thinking, okay, I need to do this, this, this to hit this shot.

“Normally I just see it, feel it, go hit my number. I haven’t played a lot of tournaments of late, so it’s been a little bit rusty, but I’m starting to come around. I felt good about how I fought back today. I could have easily kicked myself out of the tournament today, but I kept myself in it.”

That was Friday.

Saturday, his 78 was his worst round ever at Augusta, but it wasn’t his swing that broke down.

Woods finished Round 3 on Saturday in a tailspin with two bogeys and a double on 18. It was his putter. It was the one club in his bag that didn’t require major body coordination and concerted movement on his bad leg.

“I don’t think I hit it that bad, I just had zero feeling for the greens,” he told CBS Sports afterward.

The bottom line in this new chapter of the Tiger Woods saga is this: Making the Masters cut for the 22nd consecutive time, proving he can be competitive again, opens the door for Woods to play in the U.S. Open, the British Open and PGA Championship. 

Maybe he will play some other tournaments on Tour, and that, ultimately as everyone can agree, would be marvelous for the game.

This week was a first step.