Tiger Woods won’t hit a competitive golf shot at this week’s Hero World Challenge, but he did sit down with the media on Tuesday morning prior to his tournament at Albany in the Bahamas.
Here are the main takeaways from Woods’ press conference:
Walking prep caused foot injury
“How hard do you push it to make progress while not pushing it too hard to go off the edge?”
That’s the dilemma for Woods these days.
While Woods can “hit whatever shot you want” on the golf course, the issue remains walking. He said he’s been shooting 4- to 7-under par while riding in a cart back home, yet as he ramped up his walking to get his surgically repaired right leg ready for 72 holes – prep that included several beach walks to simulate the sandy traffic area at Albany – he ended up developing the plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
With taking a cart not an option this week, Woods had to withdraw.
“I've had a few setbacks during the year that I still was able to somehow play through, but this one I just can't,” Woods said. “Only time can heal this one. and stay off my feet and get a lot of treatment done.”
Tiger still a go for PNC
While Woods didn’t specifically address The Match on Dec. 10, where he’s slated to team with Rory McIlroy against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, he did confirm that he’s still planning to compete with his son, Charlie, in next month’s PNC Championship.
“The Father-Son will be a very easy week,” Woods said of the 36-hole scramble event. “Charlie will just hit all the shots and I'll just get the putts out of the hole, so pretty easy there. But other than that, in the match we're playing in, we're flying in carts.”
Expect Woods to play both, though with months of rest prescribed to heal his foot, it's unlikely we see Woods play on the PGA Tour until April's Masters.
Speaking of carts…
Woods was adamant that he would never use a cart in a PGA Tour event, only on the PGA Tour Champions and other events, like the PNC, where they are permitted.
He also mentioned that he voted against his former Stanford teammate Casey Martin, who suffered from a rare circulatory disease in his right leg that made walking difficult, being able to use a cart in Tour competition. Martin won his lawsuit against the Tour and was able to use a cart.
“I think walking is an integral part of the game at our level, and I will never take a golf cart until it's sanctioned,” Woods said. “It's sanctioned on the Champions Tour and the PNC is part of that. As far as a regular event, no, I would never do that.”
There you go: There will be no ADA lawsuits in Woods' future.
Tiger vague on recent procedures
Woods revealed that he underwent “a few more procedures” this year, but pressed on further details, Woods wouldn’t disclose anything.
What procedures did you have? “I had a couple surgeries, yes.”
Can you elaborate? "Nope."
Can you say when? "In the past."
In the past? "This year."
No, Rory didn’t give Tiger COVID
McIlroy said in a recent interview that he gave Woods COVID-19 the week before The Open at St. Andrews.
“He texted me at 10 o'clock that [Thursday] night, chills, fever, and I'm like, 'F---ing hell, I've just given Tiger COVID! This is horrendous!' So, we both had COVID going into The Open.”
But according to Woods, he never had COVID.
“Yeah, I got tested. I was always negative,” Woods said. Was I feeling under the weather? Yes, wasn't feeling great the whole week, but I never got a positive test.”
“Greg has to go”
Woods fielded plenty of LIV-related questions, and though he continued to back the PGA Tour – “You want to compare yourself to Hogan? You want to compare yourself to Snead? You want to compare yourself to Nicklaus? You can't do that over there, but you can on this tour.” – he also echoed his peers such as McIlroy and Jon Rahm in calling for the two sides to “eventually, hopefully, have a stay between the two lawsuits and figure something out.”
But in order for that to happen, this much is clear, says Woods: “Greg has to go.”
Woods later added, as it relates to LIV and the PGA Tour co-existing: “Right now, as it is, not right now, not with their leadership, not with Greg there and his animosity towards the Tour itself. I don't see that happening. As Rory said and I said it as well, I think Greg's got to leave.”
It's worth pointing out, however, that other than a change at the top for LIV, Woods didn't elaborate on what a potential LIV-PGA Tour truce would look like.
Phil doesn't deserve an apology
Asked if Phil Mickelson deserved an apology after Mickelson's criticism of the PGA Tour and its "obnoxious greed" was followed by purse increases, large-scale changes and other added benefits for Tour members, Woods confidently answered: "No. Absolutely not, no."
As Woods argued, the Tour didn't just have the extra money lying around.
"We took out an enormous loan during the pandemic in which that, if we had another year of the pandemic, our Tour would only be sustained for another year," Woods added. "So, we took out an enormous loan. It worked, it paid off in our benefit, hence we were able to use that money to make the increases that we've made."
The loan comment seemed to contradict Mickelson's past comments that the Tour "magically found a couple hundred million [dollars]."
That caused Mickelson to respond on Twitter:
Tiger agrees that OWGR is flawed
Piggybacking off of Rahm’s criticism from earlier this month, Woods also expressed his disapproval for the updated world-rankings system, which now uses a strokes-gained metric to determine strength of field.
“Yeah, OWGR, it's a flawed system,” Woods said. “That's something we all here recognize. The field at Dubai got less points than Sea Island and more of the top players were there in Dubai, so obviously there's a flawed system. How do you fix it? You know, those are meetings we're going to have to have. We're going to have to have it with World Golf Committee and as well as the main tours that are involved in it somehow come up with a better system than is in place now.”
Another St. Andrews Open?
Likely not, Woods says.
“I don't know what this leg is going to look like in eight years,” Woods said. (St. Andrews isn’t expected to host again until 2030, though it could be sooner.) “Hopefully, it's still attached, but we'll see. I just don't want to go back and just say farewell, I want to win the damn thing. I mean, that's what I thought I could do this year. I was doing everything right and then all of a sudden, my leg just wasn't working properly.”
Fingers crossed that Woods’ leg is indeed still attached in 2030.
What about Woods’ 2023 goals?
“The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more. That's it,” Woods said. “I mean, physically, that's all I can do. I told you that, guys, you know, the beginning of this year, too. I mean, I don't have much left in this leg, so gear up for the biggest ones and hopefully, you know, lightning catches in a bottle and I'm up there in contention with a chance to win and hopefully I remember how to do that.”
That's likely it. But if there were a "one or two more?" Riviera and Bay Hill seem like two early options as the summer schedule is too condensed for Woods to play anything more than the majors. Woods could play one of those and then cap his year in the Bahamas.