Woods has not been seen much since the Hero World Challenge in December, but he posed for pictures Tuesday while hosting a dinner for several Nike athletes at his The Woods Jupiter restaurant near the site of this week’s Honda Classic. The next day, he released a video of himself hitting a 9-iron into a simulator and noted that his game is “progressing nicely” as he recovers from multiple surgeries.
Thursday he was at Nicklaus’ home in North Palm Beach, Fla., for the first of multiple team-building events leading up to the biennial matches this fall. According to multiple player accounts, Woods appeared healthy and happy despite reports last week on social media that he had suffered a setback during his recovery.
“I talked to him for just a second. I said, ‘Wow, you’re standing up, you’re not dead,’” said Jimmy Walker. “He said, ‘I know, everyone thinks I’m dead now.’ I said, ‘I’m glad you’re here,’ and he said, ‘I wouldn’t miss it.’”
Woods has been named as one of Davis Love III’s assistant captains for the matches at Hazeltine, but the fact that he made the short commute from his home in Jupiter, Fla., for the outing spoke volumes to many players in attendance.
“It was really cool to see Tiger there,” said Brendan Steele. “Obviously he’s not fully healthy and we haven’t seen much of him lately, so for him to show up there really shows what it means to him, these Ryder Cup and team events, how important they are because it would be really easy to not go when you’re not even playing.”
Woods was one of three assistant captains at the dinner, as Jim Furyk drove down from his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., while Tom Lehman flew in from Arizona. Although Woods remains out of action since the Wyndham Championship in October, Love is keenly aware of how much his assistant pines for a spot on the 12-man squad this fall.
“He wants to play,” Love said. “Phil wants to play. Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, they all want to play. So right now, I’m getting great support from Jim and Tiger, but we want them off the bench and in the game, so hopefully they will get back at it soon.”