NASSAU, Bahamas – Sad. Depressing, really.
There he was, looking like a player. White hat, blue shirt, gray slacks. Sweat beading down his face. He looked good. He looked strong.
But, man, did he sound down.
Tiger Woods’ news conference Tuesday at the Hero World Challenge, the event which benefits his foundation, was wrought with frustration and uncertainty.
He sat before the assembled media, not as a competitor, but as a tournament host. Not as the player who has won 14 majors and 79 PGA Tour events, but as a man just wanting to be healthy again. Someone not focused on winning and records and superlatives. Just normalcy.
When will he return from his third back surgery? “There is no timetable,” he said.
Have you started rehab? “No,” he said.
What is your functionality? “I walk. I walk and I walk some more,” he said.
What do you do during the day? “I am really good at playing video games, really good. I swear, that’s basically how I pass a lot of my time,” he said.
How do you feel? “Depends on when you ask me, what time of day that is,” he said.
There was one question, where a reporter asked Woods if he never wins another tournament will he be at peace with his career.
“I think pretty much everything beyond this will be gravy,” he said.
“For my 20 years out here I think I’ve achieved a lot, and if that’s all it entails, then I’ve had a pretty good run. But I’m hoping that’s not it.”
Hope is a good thing. But that news conference did not inspire. You wanted to hear: “I’ll be back by the Masters.” Or, “Things are going well, I’m progressing.” Or, some sense of optimism.
It wasn’t there. Just that frustration and uncertainty. The most dominant player of all time, the greatest of his generation, reduced by the unknown.
Priorities have changed. There is no rush to compete again, though, he does have the itch. Right now, he wants to do more than walk. He wants to run and play soccer with his kids. When he can do that, he says, he’ll focus on golf.
When will that be? Sadly, no one, including Woods, can say.
“Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?” he asked rhetorically. “I don’t know.”