Golf fans will have to wait a few more weeks to see Tiger Woods play again.
The 15-time major champion was forced to withdraw from this week’s Hero World Challenge, a tournament he hosts in the Bahamas, due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Woods said doctors told him the condition was due to serious injuries to his right leg and foot he sustained in a car accident outside of Los Angeles in February 2021. Woods also revealed that he had two additional surgeries last year.
Woods, 46, said he still plans to play two tournaments next month because he can use the cart. Woods and world No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy will take on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in the latest edition of The Match, scheduled for Dec. 10 at the Pelican Golf Club near Tampa, Florida.
Woods is also scheduled to play his son Charlie in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida on December 17-18.
On Tuesday, Woods met with the media for the first time since the 150th Open at St Andrews in July. He spoke on a variety of topics including his health, future plans, the ongoing PGA Tour battle with LIV Golf and more during a 30-minute press conference in the Bahamas.
Were you surprised that you couldn’t play the Hero World Challenge this week?
WOODS: Well, as I gained momentum and had to walk more, it got worse. So when you have plantar fasciitis, the worst thing you can do is walk, and I walked more and more, trying to prepare my feet for this event, and I only got worse. So [I] had to shut it down and unfortunately be the host of the event and ranger Rick. So I can do it.
What is your goal for next year in terms of the number of tournaments you want to play?
WOODES: The goal is to play only the major championships and maybe one or two more. That’s all. I mean physically that’s all I can do. I told you that [at] also early this year. I mean I don’t have much left at this stage so get ready for the biggest ones and hopefully you know the lightning is on fire in the bottle and I’m fighting for a chance to win. Hope I remember how to do it. But again, giving yourself a chance to get out there again. Like I said, I didn’t expect to play three majors this year. We only hoped for the British Open, but I was able to win two more, so that was a big plus.
You must have worked incredibly hard to get to the point where you could almost play here. I know you can’t play. Is there a part of you that thinks, “Why continue? Why try to do it? I have nothing more to prove.”
WOODS: Well, I love to compete. You know, I love sports. I’ve played it almost all my life. And you know, in fact, I’ve been a professional for more than half my life. So, if you look at it from that point of view, you know, I was part of this sport and I loved it. The only pity is that I cannot do what I mentally feel that I can – the body, as it were, rejects it. When I was at home, I shot 4, 5, 6, 7 below par like it was nothing, but I was in the cart. Now you add walking and it goes away. So I need to get to the point where I can actually walk and play the way all of you guys can. I can’t do it right now.
Does the latest failure mean that you have regressed in your return?
WOODS: It’ll probably take a month or two of rest. But it was also the build-up process that did it. It’s a balancing act, right? How hard you push him to progress, but not too hard to drive him crazy, and you throw yourself back two or three days, and that’s been a balancing act for the whole year. And trying to do this, to prepare for this event, I walked a lot on the beach, trying to imitate the sand here, and my foot really did not like it.
Have you ever thought about using a golf cart on the PGA Tour?
WOODES: On the PGA tour? No. At sanctioned events where it’s allowed, yes, it’s the Champions Tour, PNC and the like. My teammate was Casey Martin, okay, and what he did with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) I voted no. I think [walking] is an integral part of the game at our level and I will never take a golf cart until it is allowed. It’s sanctioned on the Champions Tour and PNC is part of it. As for a regular event, no, I would never do that.
Rory McIlroy said in a report released last week that he had infected you with COVID-19 shortly before the St Andrews Open. Have you ever been tested?
WOODS: Yes, I was checked. I have always been negative. I didn’t feel well, yes, I didn’t feel very good all week, but I never got a positive test.
If you had to go back a year and look into the future, what would surprise or surprise you the most?
WOODES: Personally, I was hoping to play the British Open. [but] ended up playing three majors, which isn’t too bad all things considered. I did not expect that I would have to have a few more procedures because of the game, but that’s the way it is. As far as the golf ecosystem goes, I don’t think any of us could have foreseen how complex and confusing it will become, and the hostility on both sides. I don’t think we would have seen this a year ago.
Do you see the day when the PGA Tour and LIV Golf can co-exist in the golf ecosystem?
WOODES: There’s a possibility if both organizations put their lawsuit on hold, but that’s the problem: they have to put it on hold. And whether they do or not, there is no desire to negotiate if you have a lawsuit against you. So if they both have a stay and then a break and then they can meet and work something out, then maybe there is something to have. But I think [LIV Golf CEO and commissioner] Greg [Norman] should go first, and then, obviously, the lawsuit against us, and then our counterclaim against them, then they should be suspended. Then we can speak, we can all speak freely.
Right now, as it is, not now, not with their management, not with Greg and his hostility to the tour itself. I don’t see this happening. Like Rory said, and I said it too, I think Greg should go and then we’ll hopefully sit back between two lawsuits and work something out. But why would you change anything if there is a lawsuit against you? First they sued us.
Do the parties need to come to some kind of compromise in the near future?
WOODS: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s me or Rory or the tour or the other players, I wouldn’t say peacemaker but I just think we have a window of opportunity from both tours to sort it out soon. But I think this window is only closing because big companies are coming in now and they will have their own criteria for big companies. But if they can do it quickly before then… but then again, this goes back to LIV and their lawsuit. First they sue us and we countersued, so they’ll have to step back from the table, they’ll give up the table, and then we’ll have a place to talk. But their leadership must also change. If this does not happen, then I think that he will continue to follow the path he is now on.
You and Rory McIlroy spoke to a group of PGA Tour players ahead of the BMW Championship in Wilmington, Delaware, in August. Why do you think it was important for you to attend this meeting and what did you want to say to other players?
WOODS: The bottom line is we can’t compete dollar for dollar with [Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund]we just physically can’t do it. But what we can do is talk about the best opportunities for young players to get on the tour, what it means to play on the tour, how important it is, how important it is to have a legacy, [to] be able to win major championships.
At the moment, we do not know how the main championships feel about this. So if you’re a tour player, you already know you’re in the big championships, you’re in the top 50, so, okay, that’s a guarantee, other players aren’t. They risk never, ever getting a chance to play in the big championships. So where is your legacy? you know i went for [LIV] toured and made a lot of money, but I never managed to win a single valuable tournament that would allow me to get into the Hall of Fame and the like.
So yes, there was a lot of talk about that and how we can increase wallets, reward players who are more visible than others who manage [PGA] tour, reward them, and provide better access to the tour at different ages and in more ways than ever before. So it was a long meeting, there were a lot of different options, and we all had to think about it, sit back. Then we had a lot of follow-ups, FaceTime meetings, trying to figure it out and make it better, and also working with the tour to try and make it better.
Rory was as candid as you are about the LIV Golf. What do you think of his lead on the PGA Tour?
WOODS: What Rory said and did is what leaders do. Rory is a real leader on this tour. The fact that he can actually get what he said to the public and be so clear and eloquent; meanwhile, go out there and win golf tournaments on top of that, people have no idea how hard it is to be able to separate those two things. But he was fantastic. He is a great leader in our calls that we make and he is a great leader with all the players here. Everyone respects him, and they respect him not only for his kicking the ball, his driving, but for the person he is.
How did the LIV Golf threat change how the PGA Tour works?
WOODES: There have been some ebb and flow, some compromises between the players, the commissioners and their staff. I think this year more than any other time we have had the openness to be…