‘I’m here to get that W’ and more from Tiger’s presser at Riviera

LOS ANGELES. On Tuesday, Tiger Woods returned to the epicenter of world golf, just days after he announced he would be playing in the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club. He discussed many topics, including his health, how he approaches competitive golf at this stage in his career, and the place of the PGA Tour in his ongoing battle with LIV Golf.

Here are five key takeaways from Woods’ 25-minute press conference.

He won’t play if he doesn’t think he can win.

At the beginning of his interview, Woods noted that Arnold Palmer had competed in 50 Masters tournaments, which meant that by the end of his career, participation in such a tournament was more ceremonial than competitive. In perhaps the most introspective moment of the press conference, Woods was asked about the concept of entering tournaments as a figurehead in a game versus playing to win a tournament.

“No, no, I don’t play 50,” Woods said with a smile. His face straightened. “I know the players have been playing and they are ambassadors of the game trying to grow the game. I can’t think about it. As a participant if I play in a tournament. I will try to defeat you. Just playing and just trying to be here with the guys now, it’s not in my DNA.”

Woods said the same thing when asked about the thought process of playing the Riviera – the fourth PGA Tour special in 2023 – this week.

“I wouldn’t flaunt myself if I didn’t think I could beat these guys,” said Woods, who hasn’t won a tournament since the 2019 Masters.

The 15-time major championship winner has admitted that there will come a time when even he won’t be able to overcome age, time and physical ailments as he once did with golf courses. However, he does not yet allow his mind to live in this harsh reality.

The biggest health problem is his right ankle.

Speaking of physical ailments, Woods elaborated that while his right leg has improved, it is his ankle that is holding him back at the moment and he has had to balance the recovery aspect while also trying to build up his strength so he can play.

“I can still shoot, but walking endurance is tough,” Woods said. “It’s something we had to work on, walking on the beach, just de-stressing, but also being able to recover the next day and see how it is in terms of inflammation, and then keep training. Perhaps I overdid it. a couple of times here or there, but I’m here.”

When asked if he had completed 72 holes over four days this year – as he would probably have to do this week if he won – Woods said no.

Woods spoke about preparing for this week’s event, which he says has always been the place he planned to return to, saying that his backyard training grounds allowed him to chip, putt and hit the ball every day before he could. play multiple holes. nine holes and eventually a full 18 holes.

“I’m not going to play full time,” Woods reiterated when asked if he ever intended to return to full strength. “I would like to play more, but will my body allow me? I don’t know. And I have to look at it realistically.”

He didn’t downplay the potential tension between PGA Tour and LIV players at the majors.

Following his debut on the Riviera, Woods said he would be gearing up for the Masters, which would be the first major event this year to feature both PGA Tour and LIV golfers. When asked about what he thought the dynamics between the two factions would be, Woods said he was not sure but knew it would be different.

“I don’t know what that reaction will be,” he said. “I know some of our friends have definitely taken a different path, but we’ll see when all that happens.”

When it comes to potential tension at the annual Dinner of Champions, which is expected to feature golfers from both sides, Woods said honoring last year’s winner Scotty Scheffler is a priority.

“The Dinner of Champions is obviously going to be something that will be talked about,” Woods said. “Make sure Scotty gets the reward he deserves, but also understand the nature of what happened and the people who left, exactly where our situations are legally, emotionally, there are many.”

He recognized Rory McIlroy as an “ambassador” who led the PGA Tour through a difficult year.

Since last year’s Riviera tournament, conversations have been dominated by the LIV, and Woods took a moment to reflect on everything that had happened in the last 12 months.

“It was very hectic… It was difficult, there are no lies here,” Woods said. “We never expected the game of golf to be in this situation, but it is, it is reality. Obviously they are a competitive organization trying to make the best product they can, and we’re trying to make the best product that we think is the future of golf, the way it should be played. How do we do it? We are still working on it.”

Woods did not give a specific analysis of whether he believes the LIV is still a threat to the PGA Tour, but noted that part of the tour’s future success depends not only on bringing players together, but recognizing that playing overseas is important for the future. . sports.

McIlroy, who played in Dubai earlier this month and was one of the most active players against LIV Golf, was described by Woods as “our ambassador”.

“It was tough for him, but he was exceptional,” Woods said. “To be able to get through all of this, I was with him on all those conference calls and side meetings, and for him to go out there and play and win, it was incredible.”

He said that the #1 priority of the PGA Tour should be to create the best product.

The evolution of the PGA Tour from the advent of LIV Golf to the Delaware meetup last year has been rapid, and Woods has spearheaded many efforts that are beginning to bear fruit, such as restructured schedules and wallets. High-profile events with their $20 million wallets brought together almost all the best players in the world every week. Woods acknowledged “mixed emotions” on the part of the rank and file, but called the early results of the scheduled events “positive”.

“We need to keep going, we need to stay on the same wavelength, keep progressing and do better,” Woods said. “We need to produce the best product that we can sell to all viewers.”

Woods said he spoke to players at all levels to hear their thoughts, but noted that ultimately the PGA Tour is trying to create the best product that can stand out in a crowded market.

During many of the questions Woods was asked Tuesday, the unspoken through line was the reality that he could still be the only player who can fill both press conference rooms and galleries. This was an important part of why the PGA Tour found itself in such a precarious position. Woods did his part on and off the track to keep the train on track, but even he recognizes there is a gap that needs to be filled.

“I was lucky enough to get a sponsorship exemption here at 16,” Woods said of his 1992 Riviera debut. — So is it possible in this new model? We need to create such opportunities. I was lucky and I was able to play in this tournament… I got these opportunities at the very beginning of my career. We don’t want the next stars to not have those opportunities. We want to create new stars.”


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