Tiger Woods said on Tuesday that he’s doing “whatever you want” right now, which is good news. The bad news, however, is that he can’t play the Hero World Challenge this week because he can’t walk to get into the next one.
On Monday,which he hosts with his foundation, and on Tuesday he gave an update on plantar fasciitis, which will keep him out of the four-day tournament in the Bahamas.
“Well, it was a difficult decision just because I want to play. I like to play, I like to compete, but unfortunately I can hit a golf ball and do whatever you want, I just can’t walk,” Woods said. “So I had a few setbacks over the course of the year that I could still get through somehow, but this one I just can’t…only time can heal that one and not stand on my feet and get a lot of treatment done.
“As I grew and I had to walk more, the worse it got. So when you have plantar fasciitis… the worst thing you can do is walk, and I walked more and more trying to get my feet up. I was ready for this event, and I only aggravated the situation.
This has been a theme throughout the year. When he plays, Woods is actually quite good at hitting the ball, given how little competition he’s had in the past two years. Challenges have more stamina and physical endurance than golf shots.
While he objected to any long-term questions, he admitted that the foot injury – on the same right leg that was crippled in a car accident nearly two years ago – was linked to all of his other leg injuries. However, he still plans to play The Match on December 10 and the PNC Championship on December 17-18. He will be able to ride the cart in both competitions.
“I can hit a golf ball. It only hurts to walk. So…when you have plantar fasciitis, the only thing you can do is rest and try to stretch it as best as you can, but that’s rest. Do you rest when you hold a tournament? You know, it’s hard. So this is going to be a tough week. [PNC Championship] it’s going to be a very easy week, Charlie will just hit all the throws and I’ll just get the putts out of the pit, so it’s pretty easy. But other than that, in the match we’re playing, we’re flying in carts.”
When asked, Woods categorically stated that he would never consider applying for a PGA Tour sanctioned event. So what does this setback mean for 2023? Probably nothing. In any case, Woods only planned to play 4-6 tournaments (four majors and “another one or two”), which he still believes he can do, card or not.
“It will probably take a month or two of rest,” Woods said of his foot injury. “But it was also the build-up process that did it. It’s balancing, right? How hard you push it to make progress, and yet not too hard to get off the edge, and you throw yourself back for two, three days, and it’s been an act of balancing throughout the year. And in trying to do that, to prepare for this event, I walked a lot on the beach, trying to imitate the sand here, and my foot didn’t really like it.”
“The goal is to play only major championships and maybe one or two more,” he added. “Physically, that’s all I can do… I don’t have much left in this leg so get ready for the biggest ones and hopefully you know that lightning ignites in a bottle and I compete there with a chance to win. and hopefully i remember how to do it. But again, giving yourself a chance to get back on the field.”
Woods insisted that he shot up to 7 pounds at home “like it meant nothing”, so it was not a matter of skill but more of pain tolerance and endurance. Given his historical pain threshold, this lamellar fasciitis problem is undeniably diabolical.
Like the whole year with Woods, there will be stops and starts. Some days, weeks and months he will probably feel great. He will almost certainly not have other days, weeks and months. Is there a possibility that he will play and finish six tournaments next year? Judging by the way this year has gone (and is ending), probably not. Although it was nice to hear that this particular injury only needs rest and is not a long term problem.
Although there will be other problems. Curiously, Woods also revealed that he had two surgeries earlier this year, but did not specify when they were performed or which part of his body was operated on. This is an indication of where he is in his career. And although his leg and foot may improve, other parts of his body will certainly deteriorate.
The positive side of all this is that Tiger has played more in 2022 than he expected. He said he was ahead of schedule given that at this time a year ago he thought he would only play in the Open. He also noted that he has noticed improvement in his leg since the Open Championship, in which he played the eighth and ninth rounds of his 2022 season (all nine of which came in major championships). Only recently did he experience this failure of the right leg.