Tiger Woods ‘playing to win’ this week at the Genesis Invitational, his first tournament in 7 months
LOS ANGELES. It’s been over half a year since Tiger Woods last played competitive golf, which has been rare since he was in a car accident nearly two years ago.
However, the goal is the same as always.
“If I play, I play to win,” Woods said on Tuesday.
This week, Woods will take part in the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club, his first official tournament since the British Open last July. Woods was going to attend the course this week anyway, as his foundation has been hosting the PGA Tour for years.
Woods missed the cut for his final time at an emotional finish at St. Andrews. It was one of three tournaments he entered in 2022. Woods finished 47th at the Masters in April of last year, and then withdrew from the PGA Championship a month after a tough third round when he was clearly in pain walking down the track in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He missed the US Open altogether.
Woods has been adamant that his full tour days are behind him as he sustained multiple injuries in a 2021 Southern California car accident that happened just days after that year’s Genesis Invitational. Woods required emergency surgery to save his life and almost lost his leg. Since then, he has gone through a strenuous rehab, which he described as being “more painful than anything I’ve ever experienced” and only occasionally played golf.
Although he said the plan had always been to play in that tournament, Woods was admittedly rusty. He hasn’t played 18 holes for four days in a row – something that once was, and still is, a challenge – for quite some time now. The problem now is not so much in his knee as in his ankle.
“The leg is better than last year, but that’s my ankle,” Woods said. “So being able to recover from day to day and at the same time still stress him, but still recover and have strength and development at the same time, it was a tricky little balance that we had to dance. But in the last couple of months it has gotten a lot better.”
Tiger Woods does not want to move to the post of ambassador
Given that Woods is a competitor, it makes sense that he thinks he could lift the trophy at the end of the week. However, with the field this week, it will not be an easy task.
Nine of the top 10 golfers compete in the Riviera, including Scotty Scheffler, who defended his title at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last week and regained his top spot in the official world golf rankings.
But, outwardly at least, Woods thinks he can win a career at No. 83 here on the Riviera. This would not only break Sam Snead’s Tour record and make Woods the best tournament golfer in history, but it would also take place on the same course where Woods made his Tour debut in 1992. It is also a field where he has never won in 13 starts.
“I wouldn’t have put myself up here if I didn’t think I could beat these guys and win the tournament. That’s my mentality,” Woods said. “If I wasn’t ready to win at this level, I would be very rusty, but I used to get out of a rusty situation and everything worked out for me.”
After this week, no matter how things play out, the 47-year-old will most likely not play again until the Masters in April. The end of his playing career, admittedly, is also not far off.
When that day comes, whenever that day comes, Woods isn’t going to stretch out his playing days just to be on the field as an ambassador of sorts, as some other great athletes have done. This week is a perfect example of that.
“There will come a time when my body won’t let me [compete] more, and probably sooner rather than later,” Woods said. “But thinking about this transition and being an ambassador and just trying to be here with the guys, no.
“It’s not in my DNA. … I am here to get this W.”