When it comes to hitting balls, Tiger Woods hasn’t missed a day of practice since we last saw him at the PNC Championship, the father-son event in mid-December in which Woods competed alongside son, Charlie, using a golf cart. If he was playing at his home club, Medalist, Woods was usually walking – at least until he got tired; then he'd hop in a cart.
Woods won’t have that luxury this week at Riviera Country Club, where should he make the Genesis Invitational cut, his surgically repaired right leg would have to log 72 holes in four days.
That’s something, Woods admitted Tuesday during his pre-tournament presser, that he has yet to do this year, and presumably since at least the Hero World Challenge in early December, an event that Woods withdrew from because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
As he gears up for his first non-major PGA Tour start since the 2020 Zozo Championship, Woods repeated that, much like every tournament he’s played since his February 2021 car accident, his physical limitations would be his biggest challenge.
Full-field tee times from The Genesis Invitational
“The plan was to play,” Woods said of this week. “Whether or not this body would listen to me or not was the main question. And as I told some of you guys that were down at the Hero, and the Father-Son, I could do the Ranger Rick thing, so I can hit golf balls and do all that stuff; it's matter of whether I have endurance in my leg, and we've been pushing it pretty good and able to recovery each and every day, which is great.”
While the plantar fasciitis is still an issue, Woods says, it’s gotten better. So, too, has his leg.
Mostly, it’s his right ankle that’s currently been giving him the most trouble.
“The leg is better than it was last year, but it's my ankle,” Woods said. “So, being able to have it recover from day to day, and meanwhile, still stress it, but have the recovery, and also have the strength development at the same time, it's been an intricate little balance that we've had to dance. But it's gotten so much better the last couple months.”
The last time Woods walked 72 holes of competition was last spring’s Masters, where he finished solo 47th. Expectations-wise, Woods maintains that despite his body – and his lackluster record in the Los Angeles-area event – he feels well enough to finish better than that at Riviera this week.
Believe him or not, Woods is aiming big.
“I'm excited to go out there and compete and play with these guys,” Woods said. “And I would not have put myself out here if I didn't think I could beat these guys and win the event. That's my mentality.”