This is what Tiger Woods struggles with the most when returning from long layoffs

January 22, 2020

After a record-tying 82nd win in October and victorious Presidents Cup captaincy in December — not to mention a stone-cold 3-0 playing record — Tiger Woods returns to action this week at the Farmers Insurance Open.

It’s a strong field even without Woods, as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and others are teeing it up, but Woods will still steal the majority of the attention. He usually does that anyway, but this week is Torrey Pines — where he’s won eight times as a pro.

But still, there could be some rust. Woods won the Zozo Championship in October and didn’t play again until his unofficial tournament, the Hero World Challenge, in early December. The next week he flew to Australia for the Presidents Cup and, despite playing well, had to sit himself for an entire day when he wasn’t feeling physically ready to play. During his pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday, Woods said he didn’t touch a club for more than two weeks after the Presidents Cup, save for a birthday round with his son on Dec. 30. He then began practicing four or five days later — and testing some new clubs — before he worked his way through his bag leading up to Torrey. But Woods isn’t expecting to be rusty when it comes to hitting shots, more so managing what might affect those shots.

“Managing adrenaline takes a little bit of time,” Woods said, when asked what’s the slowest part of his game to come around when he feels rusty. “I’m so amped up to play that I really have to dumb myself down, to calm myself down to play, because it’s one of the things I’ve always struggled with because I just want to get out there and compete. So sometimes I need to take a step back and calm down before I’m ready.”

“Finding the rhythm of the round, I always say that to you guys, sometimes I find it on the first hole, sometimes it takes as long as three, four, five holes, and by then hopefully I haven’t made too many mistakes on those holes where I can turn a good score in,” he continued. “Sometimes it’s gotten me behind and sometimes I’ve missed cuts because I haven’t been able to find the rhythm of the round fast enough.”

Woods is grouped with Collin Morikawa and Rahm for the first two rounds of the Farmers. They’ll tee off at 12:40 p.m. ET on Thursday and 1:40 p.m. ET on Friday.

Woods needs one more PGA Tour victory to break Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour titles. After this week’s Farmers he’ll take two weeks off and return as player/host at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.

“I think that the number, just trying to get to 83, I really don’t think about it because I have to think about all the things I need to do to win the golf tournament,” Woods said. “There’s so many different shots I have to play and strategy and thinking my way around the golf course that I’m more consumed in that.”

To receive GOLF’s all-new newsletters, subscribe for free here.