Woods shot a 2-under-par 69 at the Genesis Invitational, Southern California on Thursday. Each stroke was a research effort for bigger goals that still linger.
The 1,294th-ranked golfer in the world arrived at the tee on Thursday afternoon. Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the world, was also there. Rory McIlroy was also there. Justin Thomas was ranked seventh.
The 47-year old man, who was wedged between William Nygard in the Official World Golf Ranking and Marcos Montenegro, believed that he could win Genesis Invitational. This tournament was something he had never won.
Despite all his wounds, Tiger Woods has not changed his mental approach to the mental battleground that often divides elite athletes from the rest. His December birthday did not offenly diminish the fierce competition that has raged for so long that it helped to define a whole professional sport. His disappearing acts from golf didn’t stop him from pursuing his dreams of upsetting his rivals.
Woods can’t hide the fact that each competitive round is actually 18 holes of rehabilitation research, and development. Some days are better than others for experimentation. He shot a par 69 on Thursday ahead of Friday’s second round. Each stroke and step at Riviera Country club was a data point in the team’s quest for a body that can hum to a higher standard.
“The communication between myself and my staff, my trainer team, it’s an ebb-and-flow daily trying to figure the right tape job. The right angles. The padding that we require. After his round, Woods stated that this all changes every day. Look at where we were last season. It has changed completely, and will continue to change.”
It was a huge loss because professional golf is not a sport that can be easily combined with quick recovery from a wreck that almost cost one of the best players in the game.
Woods was playing the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club to make his post-wreck recovery. He said that he would need “lots and lots of treatments, lots and lots of ice baths, just basically frozing myself to death” before the next round. He withdrew his participation in the P.G.A., Woods’ next major tournament of the year. He pulled out of the P.G.A. Championship after being 12 over after three rounds.
He said that “people don’t know what I go through and how many hours it takes to get the body ready to do what you just did.” After he had decided that he couldn’t play in a low-key event here in the Bahamas due to plantar fasciitis four months later, he admitted that he had gone through “a few more procedures” because he was playing.
His 2022 results, despite the surgery, were brilliantly defiant. He played nine rounds at major tournaments less than two years after suffering open fractures to his right leg’s tibia, fibula, and tibia. His best finish at Augusta National was 47th, which was his worst result since 1996. (He was able to bounce back from difficult times and won his first green jacket in 1996.
The threat of more of the same this year is real, but it does not promise to be any less. Woods stated this week that his greatest threat is an ankle.
“It’s been a delicate little balance that we have had to dance to be able to allow it to recover from day-to-day and still stress it, but also have the recovery and strength development, it’s been a difficult little balance,” Woods said. He still believes he can still be a shotmaker if his endurance matches his ambition. It’s been improving over the past couple months.
Riviera is the course just west of Los Angeles, where Woods won his first PGA Tour event as a 16-year old amateur. He can mount a cart when he gets tired, but he has seen his outings grow from a few holes up to 18.
He said, “It’s just an accumulation and it’s built up tremendously to get to this point.” “Then, after the event, we’ll analyze and determine what needs to be done to prepare for Augusta.”
He will have a lot of work to do as Augusta is one of the most topographically demanding destinations in golf. Woods believes his record does not mean he should be ignored. He plans to play a much more restricted schedule and will not compete in the Masters in April.
He said that it was still uncertain if he would return to work after his back fusion. This complex operation occurred in 2017, after he had failed back surgeries and needed opioids. “I wasn’t sure if I would be able to walk again after that, so I returned and went for a run. The same thing happened with my leg. I wasn’t sure if I could play again. I also played three majors last season. Yes, you are less invincible when you age and get more beaten up.
He said that golf’s nature makes it possible for athletes to forget about retirement times.
Woods said that there is no contact and that he doesn’t have any 300-pound men falling on me. He still has to deal with plantar fasciitis, which sidelined him last autumn. It’s all about shooting the lowest score. You have the option to choose from a variety of options and continue playing for a bit longer.
It is true. Arnold Palmer, then 74, played his 50th and last Masters. Gary Player was his last appearance in 52 when he turned 73.
Woods was asked by a reporter to look into the future this week in California. “If you are 60 and don’t have the irrational belief that ‘I can win this tournament’,'” Woods was asked. “Could you still enjoy it?”
Perhaps — maybe — one day, that was the effective response.
“If I’m playing at the event, I’m going try to beat you. He said, “I’m there to win, OK?” “So, I don’t get why making the cut is a great thing. It’s always my goal to win the event if I enter it.”
Reality is looming, but his next sentences proved it.
He said, “There will be a time in my life when my body won’t allow me to do this anymore.” But I have to get my head around the transition and be an ambassador and try to be here with the guys.
His research and development will continue until then. For a birdie, he started Thursday’s round by hitting a 4-foot putt. As the afternoon progressed, three bogeys appeared and then followed by three consecutive birdies.
Woods stated, “As soon I get back to my hotel, it’s just frosting and treatment and icing, and icing, and then just hit repeat throughout your entire night.”