Woods ends 'amazing' year, will reduce schedule in 2019
December 02, 2018
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods' interview after Round 4 of Hero
NASSAU, Bahamas – Having struck his last competitive shot and signed his last scorecard of 2018, Tiger Woods was quick to switch into reflective mode Sunday afternoon at his Hero World Challenge. It didn’t take him long to offer a proper perspective.
“The entire year has been amazing,” he said.
While this week wasn’t exactly amazing for Tiger -- he finished next-to-last in the 18-man field after a 1-over 73 left him at 1 under for the tournament – 2018 will indeed go down as one of his most memorable.
His return to the PGA TOUR after undergoing multiple back surgeries would’ve been enough of a comeback story. But then he started making noise on the weekend and giving himself opportunities to win again. It finally culminated at the TOUR Championship when he won for the 80th time on TOUR, but the first in five years.
“I’m done competing. I’m done playing for the year,” said Woods, who is scheduled to fly to Australia this week to help promote the 2019 Presidents Cup, of which he is the U.S. captain. “It’s been quite an amazing year to go from where I’ve come from and now I can actually finally say I’m done playing for the year. We can sit back and really enjoy it.”
Woods said it didn’t take him winning at East Lake to know he could win again on TOUR. He said being in contention at the Valspar Championship in March – it was just his fourth start of the season – was all the confirmation he needed. Unlike two weeks earlier at the Honda Classic, where Woods finished T-12th but was unhappy with the way he completed his rounds, Tiger was encouraged with his share of second behind winner Paul Casey.
“Once I put myself in position to win at Tampa four tournaments into it, I knew I could win,” Woods said. “Now, could I play consistently week-in, week-out? That’s a totally different matter.”
Woods produced six more top-10 finishes after Valspar, but he also missed his second cut of the season at the U.S. Open and was a non-factor in the first two events of the FedExCup Playoffs. Those are some of the consistency issues that he will try to clean up in 2019.
Part of that solution will resolve itself as Woods reduces his playing schedule. His 19 worldwide starts in 2018 matches his total from five years. Woods didn’t anticipate playing that many, but with his body holding up and by gaining qualification in certain events – like the late-season World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational after he moved inside the top 50 in the world rankings -- the starts kept adding up. Down the stretch, he played seven times in nine weeks.
Only once since 2006 has Woods played more events in a year than 19 – the 22 starts he made in 2012.
He was still in his late 30s back then. Later this month, he turns 43 and Woods promises not to subject his aging body to the rigors of that many starts moving forward. He and his team will soon get together and try to figure out. His only confirmed starts for now is the Genesis Open, which is run by his foundation, and the four majors.
“We’re going to sit back after I’m done with Australia and really get back into the gym and build up my body, get it stronger and get some weight on me and see where I want to start the year and see how many events that I should play,” Woods said.
“I’m not going to play as many as I did this year. I played in too many this year, and that was from adding an event because I missed the cut at L.A. to qualifying to get into Akron. Who knew that I could make it through all the Playoffs events? So all those events told a lot.
“I won’t be playing as much as I did last year. … That was just too much for my body to handle and I was not physically prepared for it. I hadn’t trained for that, so we’re going to make some adjustments for next year.”
For now, he will not only take time to reflect but will also start the off-season testing on his equipment. He did not change his equipment in 2018 but is looking forward to whatever TaylorMade may have in store for him. Plus, as he mentioned, he’ll hit the gym in hopes of adding another measure of consistency.
At some point early in 2019 – he’s not yet ruled out the Sentry Tournament of Champions, although he hasn’t played the tournament since 2005 – we’ll see Tiger back on the course. Unlike a year ago, the expectations will be different. Much higher.
“I know that I can win because obviously I just proved it,” Woods said. “It’s just a matter of getting everything kind of peaking at the right time. … The will and the want and the desire hasn’t changed; it’s just a matter of is the body willing to do it.
“There are days or weeks that they don’t cooperate, so that’s just part of the injuries I’ve gone through and aging. The older athletes just don’t perform as consistently as they once did. I’ve been out here for 20-some odd years.”
Luckily for the golf world, it now appears he’ll be out for a few more years.
Tiger Woods' birdie on No. 14 at Hero