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Tiger Woods spoke with reporters on Tuesday ahead of his season debut at the Genesis Invitational.
Perhaps two of Tiger Woods’ most telling answers during his pre-tournament press conference at the Genesis Invitational Tuesday were just one word each.
“No” and, “Yes.”
The first was when Woods was asked if he had played and walked 72 holes over four-straight days yet this year. If Woods makes the cut and plays all four rounds, it’s likely it will be the first time since last year’s Masters he’s accomplished the feat.
He intended to walk and play four-straight rounds at the Hero World Challenge in The Bahamas in December, but he withdrew before the tournament started, which brings us to his second one-word answer.
The plantar fasciitis that kept him out of the Hero is still a problem more than two months later but not enough to miss the event he hosts that benefits his foundation.
“Not as much [of an issue], it’s better,” Woods said of the condition.
The 15-time major winner, who is making his first PGA Tour start since the Open Championship in July and first start at a non-major since 2020, said it’s not the foot that’s been his biggest hindrance this time.
“It’s more my ankle, whether I can recover from day-to-day,” Woods said. “The leg is better than it was last year, but it’s my ankle. So being able to have it recover from day-to-day and meanwhile still stress it but have the recovery and also have the strength development at the same time, it’s been an intricate little balance that we’ve had to dance.”
Woods played just nine competitive rounds in 2022 after a single-car crash just days after the Genesis in 2021 left him with open fractures to both the tibia and fibula as well as damage to that right ankle that nearly forced amputation.
He stated in December, when he withdrew from the Hero and later played in two events with the aid of a cart, that walking was the most difficult thing for him at this point, not hitting balls.
Then Tuesday, he offered a bit of optimism. Woods said he’s been hitting balls and practicing at home “almost every day” in preparation to return this week.
“I chip and putt. I’ve got a neat little practice facility in my backyard so I can do a little bit of short game work there and a little bit of progression,” Woods said. “I’ve gone out to Medalist [his home club] and hit balls, I’ve walked the golf course when I’ve played. Then I’ll play, I’ll hop in a cart when I get a little tired. And it’s gone from a few holes to nine holes to the back nine and then to 18 holes and go back home, practice. So it’s just a build-up, and it’s built up fantastic to get to this point.”
Woods reiterated he’ll never be able to play a full schedule again. He even implied he wasn’t planning to play after this week until the Masters in April.
“After this event, we’ll analyze it and see what we need to do to get ready for Augusta,” he said.
But even given all of his injuries, he also repeated something he’s long stated about tournaments he chooses to play: He legitimately thinks he can win.
The weather in Los Angeles will be uncharacteristically cold this week, something that usually isn’t a good sign for Woods with his injury history, specifically with his back. It’s expected to be around 45˚ when Woods tees off for his 6:30 a.m. pro-am time Wednesday.
But Woods addressed it up front in his roughly 35-minute press conference.
“A little cooler than I thought, [I’ll] get used to that and get ready for Thursday,” he said.
Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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