Mar
2
2016
Tiger reports he’s feeling better, but still no timetable for return
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods posted an update on his health to his website on Wednesday morning. <crickets> There’s nothing really new to divulge, but he did clarify that he has not hit a club longer than his 9-iron (in other words: he isn’t hitting drivers, per reported last week), and he divulged an interesting opinion about his health and career in his press conference at Bluejack Nation, his first finished U.S. golf course design. 

As I announced last week, I am starting to feel a lot better. I have been chipping and putting at home, and recently started hitting 9 irons. That’s been so nice. After all, Florida is the Sunshine State.

My son Charlie and I compete in just about everything and have three-hole chipping contests. The loser has to do push-ups. My short game feels pretty sharp.

The big thing right now is trying to get stronger and more flexible. Sitting out as long as I did, some weakening occurred, and I have a lot of work ahead of me.

While there is no timetable on my return to competitive golf, I want to play this game at the highest level again. In order to do that, I have to get healthy.

I’ve received many nice calls and texts from my fellow PGA TOUR players and want to thank them for their support and encouragement. It’s a fraternity out there, and we’re all in this together.

LOL. I need the emoji for crying from laughing so hard. While we all wish Woods well, he couldn’t be more vague, and this doesn’t really count as an “update” since he doesn’t reveal anything that we didn’t know, but more like, he confirmed what we already assumed — he’s progressing, but he doesn’t know when he’ll be back.

Woods was in Houston Wednesday afternoon to host a special member day for the official opening of The Playgrounds and The Place at Bluejack National. He held a press conference, where he continued to offer little details on his rehabilitation from back surgery this fall (he’s endured three procedures in the last year and a half) and basically no info on his plan to return to competitive golf. Sorry, guys, but it doesn’t sound like Bay Hill is a possibility, and the Masters is looking like a faraway cry, as well.

“When will I know? I’ll let you know,” said Woods, laughing, during the presser aired on Golf Channel. “Because of right now, I don’t. But I’m in a heck of a lot better place than I was in December. That I do know.”

Woods, however, did get reflective and introspective for a moment, showing some candor and transparency for a change. I think most athletes who battled injuries feel this way and wish they could go back in time and dealt with things wiser and taken more time off to heal.

“I am (being more patient), and I have to be with it, he said. “That wasn’t always the case. I’ve played through a lot of injuries. I’ve played through some situations I probably shouldn’t have, won some tournaments I probably shouldn’t have won. But I’ve cost myself some other tournaments by pushing through that, and I’ve cost myself months — and years because of it. But that’s what athletes do. We play through pain, we deal with injuries. That’s part of playing sports…We’re always pushing the envelope to compete at the highest level.”

I’m curious now as to what kind of painkillers he was taking, especially during the highly-decorated, one-legged victory at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines…

Woods admission that perhaps he pushed himself too hard to play through injuries is him coming to terms with the fact his golden years are over and maybe even his competitive days — let alone thinking about winning another major. He’s playing with borrowed time. His body is beat-up, tired, and he’s 40. Sure, that’s relatively young, but after all those surgeries, there’s certainly a lot of scar tissue that comes with it. And it’s not just physical, it’s mental, as well, which, in golf, can be more damaging.

Meanwhile, Woods has also been taking phone calls from Jason Day and dishing advice.

“He had nothing else, I guess,” Day said, referring to Woods. “He was just sitting at his home and I just called.”

Day recalled speaking to Tiger for about 50 minutes and mental toughness — which was Woods’ signature in his peak — has been a consistent topic between the two. Day has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start to 2016 after his red-shot 2015, winning five PGA Tour titles, including the PGA Championship and four over the last three months of the season.

“Every time that I talk to him, it’s mindset, mental toughness, effort,” Day said. “It didn’t matter how bad it was; if it was a course that he did not like, he was just going to flat out-execute you. It did not matter. That’s that killer instinct that I need to get back like I had at the second half of last year, get back and take it into this year and go through with it.

“I have the killer instinct — I do, it’s down there, but it just hasn’t come out yet [this year],” he said. “Once it does, I’m hoping that I can replicate the second half of last year. But it’s amazing to be able to talk to someone that’s done it for so long, because [Woods] did it for 14, 15 years of just absolutely dominating and killing it. If there’s a better person to talk to about it, that was him.”

Day’s performance last year and his rise to the “Big Three” in golf that includes him at world no. 2, along with world no. 1 Jordan Spieth and no. 3 Rory McIlroy, has created more pressure on the Australian. After all, who else knows better than Tiger Woods when it comes to dealing with great expectations?

“That’s one of the main reasons why I called Tiger was to ask him about stuff like that, because he dealt with it so great and he wanted it for so long, and that’s the biggest key was want,” said Day. “It really comes from within. But once again, I’m talking to Tiger about it and just I have to make sure that I go out there and go through the process right and do all the little things that got me to that point of dominating the second half.”

Day’s only made three starts in 2016, with finishes of 10th, 11th, along with a missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he was unable to defend his title. 

And in all of this, what’s still lost is when Tiger will be better and even perhaps if he’ll ever be ready to come back. Hopefully that’s not the case.