Tiger Woods hopes to play PGA TOUR again
Woods spoke with Golf Digest ahead of hosting this week's Hero World Challenge
November 29, 2021
By Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
- November 29, 2021
- Tiger Woods is the tournament host of the Hero World Challenge. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods has revealed he hopes to play on the PGA TOUR again, albeit on a limited basis.
Woods spoke to Golf Digest in a video interview released Monday, shedding light on his future for the first time since he suffered extensive damage to his leg in a single-car accident last February.
The video came out a day prior to his first scheduled press conference with wider media, which will be held at 9 a.m. Eastern at Albany Golf Course in The Bahamas, where Woods is hosting his Hero World Challenge.
The accident in Los Angeles on Feb. 23 saw Woods suffer comminuted open fractures to the tibia and fibula in his right leg and damage to his ankle, leaving his playing future in doubt. The 82-time PGA TOUR winner revealed amputation was a distinct possibility in the early days of recovery.
“I think something that is realistic is playing the TOUR one day -- never full time, ever again -- but pick and choose, just like Mr. (Ben) Hogan did. Pick and choose a few events a year and you play around that,” Woods told Golf Digest.
“You practice around that, and you gear yourself up for that. I think that’s how I’m going to have to play it from now on. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s my reality. And I understand it, and I accept it. … There was a point in time when, I wouldn’t say it was 50/50, but it was damn near there if I was going to walk out of that hospital with one leg.”
Woods has made numerous comebacks from injuries before. He broke his leg and tore his ACL in 2008 and has had multiple back surgeries, including a fusion. But he turns 46 in December and has switched the focus of his life to his children and his health.
“I don’t have to compete and play against the best players in the world to have a great life,” Woods said. “After my back fusion, I had to climb Mt. Everest one more time. I had to do it, and I did. This time around, I don’t think I’ll have the body to climb Mt. Everest and that’s OK.
“I can still participate in the game of golf. I can still, if my leg gets OK, I can still click off a tournament here or there. But as far as climbing the mountain again and getting all the way to the top, I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation of me.”
Woods set the golf world alight on Nov. 21 with a quick three-second video post of his swing with the caption “Making progress." It led to speculation he might be trying to get fit for the PNC Championship on Dec. 16-19 in Orlando, where major champions team up with a member of their family in a team format.
Tiger and his son Charlie competed in the event in 2020 for the first time and finished seventh. It was the last event Woods played before the accident as he underwent back surgery soon after.
The video interview shows Woods walking unimpaired, but the 15-time major winner played down that chance by suggesting his rehabilitation still poses a long and lengthy road.
“I have so far to go. ... I’m not even at the halfway point,” he said. “I have so much more muscle development and nerve development that I have to do in my leg. … I’m able to walk on my own now but I still struggle going up or down. The next progression is can you walk without a hitch in your giddy up… well that's going to take time.
“I am able to chip and putt and do other things, swing clubs, but there's no endurance. Because I haven't built it up yet especially golf endurance. I haven't done it enough, so I get tired. When that leg, my right leg gets tired, it's time to shut it down.”
With the five previous back surgeries also affecting his progress, Woods is still grinding.
“As the leg gets stronger, sometimes the back may act up. ... It’s a tough road,” he added. “But I’m just happy to be able to go out there and watch Charlie play or go in the backyard and have an hour or two by myself with no one talking, no music, no nothing. I just hear the birds chirping. That part I’ve sorely missed.”
Woods says 12-year-old Charlie’s progression in the sport was a motivator during his recovery and he’s enjoyed being a mentor. While he couldn’t join him in a full playing capacity, he did take the opportunity to impart some of the mental tips that have been imperative in his success.
“I went to golf tournaments to watch him play, and I’m looking at some of these scores he’s shooting and I said, How the hell are you shooting such high scores? I gotta go check this out,” Woods said.
“So I’d watch him play and he’s going along great, he has one bad hole, he loses his temper, his temper carries him over to another shot and another shot and it compounds itself. I said, ‘Son, I don’t care how mad you get. Your head could blow off for all I care just as long as you’re 100% committed to the next shot. That’s all that matters. That next shot should be the most important shot in your life. It should be more important than breathing. Once you understand that concept, then I think you’ll get better. And as the rounds went on throughout the summer, he’s gotten so much better.”