Tiger Woods says he’s concerned about his health surviving playoff run
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — On Tuesday, Tiger Woods looked at ease at Liberty National. He swung driver full speed and walked seemingly pain-free and spent much of the round trading jokes and stories with Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Harold Varner III.
Wednesday was a different day. Woods, playing in the first pro-am tee time of the day, looked stiff warming up and looked stiff early in the round and confirmed that he felt stiff, too. After seven holes and a couple notable full-swing winces, Woods put the big clubs away and spent the rest of his round chipping and putting and strolling. After his round, Woods insisted that the shift was largely precautionary.
“I was just feeling stiff, being smart about it,” Woods said. He didn’t deny the twinges, the way his former self may have. Woods has been forthright about his new reality. There’s no hurt/not hurt binary when it comes to his health anymore, only shades of grey. Good mornings and bad mornings.
“I learned a lot last year by playing too much,” Woods said. “Coming back from my procedure and not really knowing what to expect, I pushed it pretty hard. Vowed I would never do that again.”
Woods has had to change everything about his schedule. He can’t practice as much as he’d like. Can’t predict how he’ll feel on a given day. Can’t ramp up his work for big events. He admitted he’s worried about what the next three weeks in a row could do to his body.
“There is concern, yeah,” he said. To hear him tell it, being in the mix is when his body really gets put under stress. “I’m trying to get myself to where I’m in contention, where yeah, it takes a toll on you, and that’s what I want to feel. I want to feel that type of tiredness where I have a chance to win, have a chance to win, have a chance to win. That’s a good feeling.”
What this all means for Woods — and his voracious supporters — is a lot of uncertainty. We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of Woods’ win at East Lake. He’s the No. 5-ranked player in the world. Since the 2018 U.S. Open, Woods has played 19 tournaments and has 17 top-40s, nine top-10s and the two wins. He has generally played golf at a very high level.
This week, it seems more likely Woods’ result will match the string of top-10s rather than the MCs from Bethpage or Portrush. But the most important part of his week may come long before dawn, when Woods wakes up for his 7:43 a.m. tee time to begins the long warming-up process — and finds out if it’ll be a good day.
Woods slipped in one other important reference after his round on Wednesday. That chipping-and-putting approach? It’s what he did before Augusta, too, and that worked out okay.