If you played 18 holes this weekend, then you played more golf than Tiger Woods did.
Woods said he hasn’t played an 18-hole round since his surgery in April, even though the U.S. Open is just 10 days away, but he has started playing some holes.
“I’ve been around 18 holes, but I haven’t played 18 holes yet,” Woods said via a video conference during PGA Championship media day. “I’ll be playing more than 18 holes before [the U.S. Open begins.]”
Prior to his surgery, Woods was a slam-dunk pick to win the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, a course where he’s won six times as a professional. Now, he’ll be returning to competitive golf in the most pressure-packed environment imaginable—the hometown hero (sorry, Phil) at a major championship. The last time Woods played a major after a long layoff was the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, after his father’s death. It was the first time in his career that he missed the cut at a major. Don’t expect a repeat at Torrey Pines, Woods said.
"I feel like I'm getting there," Woods said. "I feel like I'm getting my leg stronger.
Hopefully it will be close to a hundred percent, but if it's not, no
big deal. I have won tournaments with it not like that before, so it's just
a matter of going out there and really getting into the competitive
Woods said that pain is not an issue with his knee and that his main focus is endurance and strengthening the knee to withstand twisting and turning. The famed U.S. Open rough won’t add any additional problems, he said, because it’s so thick it stops your swing.
“The rough actually puts less torque on my knee because it stops everything,” Woods said. “I’m curious about the fairway lines [at Torrey Pines] and how it’s running. When we play it in January, the weather is cool and the fairways don’t run at all.”
He added that he’s healthy enough to play next week, and that he’d be playing even if it weren’t a major championship. He said his injury (he’s now had three surgeries on his left knee) isn’t that unusual for someone who’s been playing the game for 30 years.
“Most of the guys on Tour are a little nicked up,” Woods said. “Usually it’s the left hip or the right hip or the wrist, the lower back or the neck. With me it’s the left knee that’s taken the brunt of the force in my swing. It’s one of the reasons I’ve made changes to my swing over the years.” Photo: Tiger Woods finished second at the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Fred Vuich/SI