Tiger Woods says he’ll return to PGA part time but doesn’t know when
Tiger Woods stepped gingerly off the dais in the media room of the Riviera Country Club on Wednesday, being sure not to put too much weight on the surgically repaired right leg that he nearly lost — along with his life — in a single-car accident on the Palos Verdes Peninsula one year ago.
“It’s altered,” Woods, 46, said, when asked to describe the structure of the leg. “My right leg does not look like my left, put it that way. But I’m very lucky. I didn’t know if I was gonna have the right leg or not, so to be able to have my right leg still there, it’s huge.”
Woods, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff‘s Department, was driving at nearly twice the posted speed limit of 45 mph when he hit a sharp curve and his Genesis SUV crashed in Rolling Hills Estates last Feb. 23.
Unable to negotiate a curve on Hawthorne Boulevard, Woods plowed into the center divider, smashed into a road sign and slammed into a curb and a tree.
Woods, who already was recovering from his fifth back surgery, underwent emergency surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center to repair fractures in the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones.
While Matthew Stafford was winning the Super Bowl on Sunday, Scottie Scheffler won his first PGA Tour title. Both are from Highland Park High in Texas.
A 15-time major winner and golf’s biggest star, Woods endured “countless surgeries and rehabs and [physical therapy] sessions,” and was strong enough to play in the two-day PNC Challenge with his 12-year-old son, Charlie, in December, fueling speculation he was inching closer to a return.
But Woods, who is serving as the host for the Genesis Invitational that starts Thursday, used a golf cart at the PNC event and still appears months away from playing competitive golf.
“I wish I could tell you when I’m playing again — I want to know, but I don’t,” Woods said. “My golf activity has been very limited. I can chip and putt really well and hit short irons very well, but I haven’t done any long stuff seriously. I’m still working on the walking part. It takes time. What’s frustrating is it’s not at my timetable. I want to be at a certain place, but I’m not.”
Woods, who attended Anaheim Western High School and Stanford University, hasn’t played a PGA Tour event since the Masters in November 2020. He’s confident he’ll return to the PGA Tour at some point, but on a part-time basis.
“Will I come back? Yes,” Woods said. “Will I come back and play a full schedule? No. That will never happen again. I can play certain events here and there, but on a full-time level, no, that will never happen again.”
Woods said he has made progress since the PNC event and is getting stronger every week, but not to the point where he can compete on the tour.
“I was in a cart at the PNC,” he said. “I can play weekend warrior golf — that’s easy. But to be able to be out here and play six rounds of golf, a practice round, pro-am, four competitive days … it’s the cumulative effect of all that. I’m not able to do that yet.
“It’s been tough, but I’ve gotten here, I’ve gotten this far, and I still have a long way to go. Each and every day is a fight, and I welcome that fight. Get up in the morning, let’s go a few more rounds.”
Two days before his car accident, Woods was at Riviera to present Max Homa, a Santa Clarita Valencia High School graduate who idolized Woods growing up, with the trophy for winning the 2021 Genesis Invitational.
Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills, who played golf at Pepperdine University, finished third in the Phoenix Open last week and gets another shot in Genesis Invitational on “home course” at Riviera.
“It was super eerie,” Homa said Wednesday. “We didn’t know if he was OK. It was the same feeling I felt with the Kobe Bryant news, which was about a year prior, which was super bizarre. … I had the coolest moment of my life and he was a part of it, and then the next day, I thought he might not be here anymore.
“But no surprise to anyone that Tiger’s doing fine. If there might be a person who’s immortal, I think it’s him. He personified hard work and kind of that never-give-up attitude. I think everybody out there is just happy he’s back to moving around and seems to be doing pretty well.
“If the golf thing happened, that would be cool, but I think he’s done enough for the game. If he doesn’t ever want to hit another golf shot, he’s done plenty for all of us.”
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