Tiger Woods seems to be getting his confidence back.
At a wide-ranging Tuesday press conference, Woods made it clear that he feels healthy and is ready to get back into the mix.
“Once I get into contention, I can handle myself,” he said. “I just need to get back there.”
Woods is paired with Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy on Thursday and Friday. He was asked about the pair and, more generally, his perception among the game’s younger players.
“I think now they’re starting to see me as a competitor because I’m starting to come back again,” Woods said. “Yeah, we still give the needle and have a whole bunch of fun…I think at the Hero this year it changed quite a bit.”
Woods discussed steps he’s taken since the Farmer’s Insurance Open to straighten out his driver, including changing shafts to the model he used at the Wyndham in 2015 and adding .75 degrees of loft to offset the increased stiffness.
“We could all see how bad I was driving it, and I was able to clean that up a little bit,” Woods said.
Woods was also asked about whether he’d prefer to join the U.S. Ryder Cup team as a player or captain.
“Why can’t I have both?” he asked with a grin.
Woods’s only point of uncertainty came in response to how he’ll attack Riviera’s short 10th hole.
“I’ve gone for it, I’ve layed up, and I’ve been very unsuccessful both ways,” he said, acknowledging he’s not sure what he’ll do this week.
The presser served as a reminder — not that we needed one — that Tiger Woods is far more than a golfer. He spoke extensively about his foundation, newly rebranded as the “TGR Foundation” to match the branding of his other holdings. He touched on L.A. sports, telling reporters that his father would have “a few different words” for Lonzo and LaVar Ball. He was asked about Black History Month, allowing there’s “room for more improvement” in America’s race relations.
But more than anything, Woods spoke like a man ready to get back to joining the conversations that take place during Sunday afternoon back nines, with tournaments in the balance. One line in particular gave that away:
“It’s winning time.”