The waiting hasn’t been easy for Tiger Woods.
Woods spoke with reporters Tuesday ahead of his annual Washington, D.C., golf event, now called the Quicken Loans National, this week. As he has spent the last two-plus months recovering from back surgery, Woods has watched soccer (“more World Cup than U.S. Open”) and fought his way back. Now, his first event will be his own tournament at Congressional. “I’m probably ahead of schedule,” he said. “We thought it would be the British Open that’d be my first event back, but I heal fast.”
Woods has missed two of the four majors this year and hasn’t played since March 9. Looking a little out of shape (by his standards), he was asked if he was coming back too quickly. He admitted that if this tournament weren’t tied to his foundation, he “probably” wouldn’t play this week. But he isn’t worried about any risk. “I won’t have any issue [physically],” he joked, “because I’m going to hit every fairway and every green.”
He intends to play at Royal Liverpool, bringing fresh air to a sport that has seen its TV ratings tumble in his absence. Woods discovered that he was unable to function with the pinched nerve that led to surgery. “It’s no joke,” he said.
As he was working his way back into shape, Woods broke 50 on his first nine holes and joked that it was “just like when I was 3.”
Woods admitted that he can “feel old” when he sees the big, young golfers arriving on tour and said his explosiveness isn’t back yet. “I can’t play the way I used to,” he said, speaking of driving distance. ” … Just like MJ [Michael Jordan], I’ve got a fadeaway now. I’m relying on different parts of my game.”
At least he is now pain-free for the first time in two years — “other than the headache of coming in here” to talk to reporters, he joked.
He’ll have an idea of just where his game is this week.
“It’s been an interesting road. Quite a tedious process, but I’m at a point where I can play competitive golf again.”