Getty Images

Tiger plays Hero practice round without pain: 'Life is so much better'

By Rex HoggardNovember 26, 2017, 7:45 pm

NASSAU, Bahamas – Tiger Woods was up early on Sunday at Albany, site of this week’s Hero World Challenge, getting in some final work before his first competitive start since February.

Woods raced around the layout in 2 hours, 10 minutes riding in a golf cart and looking relaxed and fit following fusion surgery on his back in April.

“I haven’t really competed in two years, really. I haven’t really done much. I’m looking forward to competing again and finding the rhythm and the feel of playing tournament golf and just hitting shots,” said Woods, who was joined by caddie Joe LaCava on Sunday. “I haven’t really had a scorecard in my hand in a while and that’s going to be different.”

Woods, who withdrew from the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic with back spasms in February, played a casual round of golf with President Donald Trump, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Brad Faxon in South Florida on Friday.

It was another step closer to competition for Woods.


Hero World Challenge: Articles, photos and video


“[Johnson is] the No. 1 player in the world. He’s been playing, I haven’t been playing,” Woods said. “It’s nice to compare my game to some of the other guys, like Dustin or Rickie [Fowler] or Rory [McIlroy]. It’s nice to do something like that and compete and have a couple little denominations [a bet] we’re playing for. I like seeing where I’m at.”

Woods, who is the host of this week’s Hero World Challenge, announced last month he planned to play the limited-field event and he’s posted various videos on social media of his swing.

Fowler told Golf.com that Woods has been driving it by him, and according to Faxon, Woods hit it by Johnson on half the holes when both players hit driver. On Sunday, Woods was asked about his swing.

“I am a little surprised,” Woods said. “The fact that I don’t have any pain in my lower back compared to what I was living with for years, it’s just remarkable.”

Woods added that the recovery process from April’s surgery, his fourth procedure on his back, has been slow, but he’s been encouraged by how his body has responded.

Woods explained that his surgeon initially cleared him to start hitting putts, which had been the most difficult thing to do before the surgery, and he gradually made his way through his bag, first hitting driver just 150 yards.

“I just chipped [driver]. I was like, ‘Yep, I hit driver today,’” Woods laughed. “I’ve progressed over a few days, hitting driver a little hard and harder and harder until it was comfortable enough to hit it full. That takes time and the last thing I want to do is have any setbacks.”

As for his expectations this week at Albany, Woods said he wasn’t sure how he would play, but he is encouraged by how his body has responded the last few weeks and glad to be pain-free.

“It could be the next step, I just don’t know and that’s tough to live with. It’s been a struggle for years,” he said. “To finally come out on the good side of it, it’s exciting. I am stiffer, I’m fused. But I don’t have the pain and if I don’t have the pain, life is so much better.”

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


Getty Images

Woods happy to help Furyk at Ryder Cup

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:58 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods didn't hesitate when Jim Furyk asked him to become a vice captain at the upcoming Ryder Cup.

Woods said Wednesday that Furyk asked he and Steve Stricker “a while ago” whether they were interested in being assistants in Paris as the Americans try to win a Ryder Cup on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Woods said of Furyk, “and whatever he wants, whatever he needs, I’m there to help him. We’re worked well the last couple of years in the cups together.”


Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


Though Woods has said that he wants to be a playing vice captain, he has been an assistant at each of the past two international team competitions.

Furyk, Woods and Stricker were all assistants at Hazeltine, where the U.S. won in a rout.

“Jim is very detailed, very smart, very analytical, and he’s just a fantastic leader,” Woods said. “For him to ask Stricks and I together, it will be special for both of us.”

Getty Images

Woods to hit '4 or 5' drivers each day at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:25 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Those hoping Tiger Woods will wield the driver early and often this week at PGA National likely will be disappointed.

Depending on wind direction, he said he will only hit “four or five” drivers each round.

During Wednesday’s pro-am, Woods hit driver on six holes. He found two fairways with the big stick and found the right rough four times, though a few of those misses were only a few yards off the fairway.


Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


In two starts this year, Woods has struggled mightily with every club off the tee, but driver has been especially troublesome. He has found only 36 percent of the fairways so far (30 of 84).

The Champion Course here is a par 70, with water and bunkers often lining the fairways. Putting the ball in play off the tee will be at a premium, and so Woods opted for a low, penetrating 2-iron six times in the pro-am.

Woods said he did not make any equipment changes following the missed cut at Riviera.

Getty Images

TT postscript: One birdie in casual pro-am round

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:15 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are a few observations after watching Tiger Woods’ pro-am round Wednesday at the Honda Classic:

• As expected, the stress level was minimal at PGA National. He had a short warmup (considering it was still freakin’ dark when he was about to tee it up, at 6:45 a.m.) and generally took little time contemplating shots, except for a few clubs off the tee.

• Tiger spent a lot of time chipping, pitching and putting after completing a hole. No surprise there. He didn’t play a practice round Monday or Tuesday, and he hasn’t competed here since 2014. Gotta get in that work.


Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


• He hit six drivers Wednesday. That’s probably one or two more than he will in competition, depending on wind direction. Two of those drives found the fairway. The other four were varying degrees off-line in the right rough, none more wild than his push slice on the difficult sixth hole that was probably 60 yards right. At least it was playable over there – water runs all the way down the left side.

• It’s not quite a stinger, but he hit more than a few 2-iron shots off the tee, with a sweet, little draw. That’ll play quite nicely here.

• We said it for a few rounds at Torrey Pines, and then again for one day at Riviera, but here goes: Woods appears to have taken the left side of the course out of play. Whether that remains true after playing under “game speed” this week, who knows?

• Woods made only one birdie, after getting up and down out of the greenside bunker on the par-5 third. His pro-am stat line, for those interested: 7 of 14 fairways, 12 greens and 31 putts and shot around 2 over. Again, he was not really trying.

• Best shot of the day? His fairway-bunker shot on the sixth hole (while playing his second ball). He skied a mid-iron from 187 yards to kick-in range. A little more of that, please.