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- American golfer
- English association footballer and coach (born 1941)
A day after Golf Digest published an exclusive interview with Tiger Woods about his future, the 15-time major champion addressed the media for the first time since his single-car accident in February on Tuesday morning.
Woods spoke to reporters live from his Hero World Challenge event in the Bahamas and began by praising his TGR Foundation, which recently celebrated a 25th birthday. He also addressed his most-recent recovery and how it compared to that of his 10 other surgeries.
“This one’s been much more difficult,” said Woods. “It’s hard to explain how difficult it’s been to be immobile for 8 months. I was just looking forward to getting outside, that was a goal of mine, especially for a person who’s spent his whole life outside.”
Here are some of the highlights from Woods’ first post-accident press conference.
Timeline for his return
Woods didn’t give an exact timeline for his return to competition, but he did say this:
“As far as playing at the Tour level, I don’t know when that’s gonna happen. I’ll play a round here and there, a little hit-and-giggle, I can do something like that.”
Golfweek reported last week that the PNC Championship would be holding a spot for Woods and his son, Charlie.
“To see some of my shots fall out of the sky a lot shorter than they used to is a little eye-opening, but at least I’m able to do it again,” continued Woods. “That’s something that for a while there didn’t look like I was going to. I’m able to participate in the sport of golf, now, to what level? I do not know.”
Tiger Woods and son Charlie Woods fist-bump after a birdie on the ninth hole during the first round of the PNC Championship at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club on December 19, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
One sentence that stood out
“The clock’s ticking, I’m not getting any younger.”
Rarely does someone with 15 major championships and 82 PGA Tour wins recognize his own mortality, but I guess coming face-to-face with losing a limb in a single-car accident can do that to a man. Woods once again mentioned “Mr. Hogan” and his approach to picking tournaments strategically, and if we know anything about the Cat, it’s that he won’t play unless he thinks he can win.
And he knows he can.
'I'll out-chip and putt any of these guys'
Apparently eight months of immobility only fanned Woods’ competitive fire.
“I’ll out-chip and putt any of these guys, but the golf course is longer than just a chip-and-putt course,” he said with a smile. “We’re not gonna be playing the par-3 course at Augusta to win the Masters so I got to get a little bigger game than that. I’ve got a long way to go in my in the rehab process to be able to do something like that.”
That doesn’t mean he’s committed to playing the annual par-3 event at Augusta National, just that he can play courses of that length.
“Now, if the Tour wants to not have golf courses lengthened, they shorten up that much to make it more difficult, that’s fine by me. I have no problem with that. They want to go back to wooden shafts and feathery balls, okay, I’m cool.”
Tiger Woods celebrates with the green jacket and trophy after winning The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports)
'(Amputation) was on the table'
Woods didn’t shy away from how serious his leg injury really was during Tuesday’s press conference.
“I’m lucky to be alive and to still have the limb. I’m very grateful that someone upstairs was taking care of me…(amputation) was on the table.”
A crane is used to lift a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in the Rancho Palos Verdes suburb of Los Angeles. (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)
Shoots down rival golf leagues
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan watched this press conference with a big smile on his face. He saw one of the greatest players of all time say he wanted to compete once again, and that it wouldn’t be on a rival golf tour.
"It's going to be his decision. I've decided for myself, and I'm supporting the @PGATOUR. That's where my legacy is … I have an allegiance to the PGA Tour."
— Tiger Woods on what he'd tell a player considering leaving for a Saudi-backed series.
— Golfweek (@golfweek) November 30, 2021
“I understand that some of the comparisons are similar to when Arnold and Jack broke off from the PGA of America to start the Tour. I don’t see it that way,” he continued. “I think the Tour has done a fantastic job, Jay’s done an unbelievable job in a very difficult time. During the pandemic, there was ample opportunity for players to leave. We were the first sporting tour to start, so with that, yes, did we have some protocol issues at times? Yes, we learned on the fly. But Jay and the staff have done an incredible job of that. I think the Tour is in great hands, they’re doing fantastic and prize money is going up, it’s just not guaranteed money like most sports are. It’s just like tennis, you’ve got to go out there and earn it.”