Tiger Woods was all smiles ahead of this weekend’s PNC Championship as he makes his highly anticipated return to competition after a February car crash shattered his leg.
The 15-times major winner will play alongside 12-year-old son Charlie in Orlando, Florida, months after the car accident that nearly led to his leg being amputated.
Woods told an on-course reporter that he was overwhelmed by the response he had received from the fans.
“The people have been so receptive and so warm and so caring. I didn’t expect it to be like this but it’s been so positive and (I’m) just so thankful,” he said.
Woods and son Charlie will tee off on Saturday, December 18, alongside good friend and world No. 6 Justin Thomas, who is playing with his father Mike.
Asked how it felt to be swinging a golf club again, Woods chuckled and replied: “It depends when you ask me.”
“It’s getting a little bit more sore now.”
“It’s good to be out here playing again and to be out here with my son like this, it’s the best.”
The 45-year-old pulled off one of the most amazing comebacks in sport when he won the Masters in 2019 to end an 11-year major title drought and pick up his fifth green jacket, adding to his reputation as one of the sport’s fiercest competitors.
But Woods said his return to the course this weekend was less about beating the odds and more about simply enjoying time with his son, who has dazzled fans with his powerful drive.
“We’re here to have fun,” said Woods. “And I told (Charlie) that’s the most important thing to do this week, just have fun. Scoring will take care of itself – we’ll feed off one another – but make sure we communicate and make sure we have fun.”
As for strategy, Woods said Charlie would hit most of the tee shots on the back nine, telling reporters his swing is “just not as powerful” as before.
“The ball doesn’t fly as far,” he said.
“The body is not what it used to be. Obviously it’s been a little banged up this year, and slowly but surely, I’ll get to where the speed will start coming back up, and I can start hitting the shots that I know that I see that just aren’t quite coming off.”
Woods, who endured four back surgeries and multiple knee operations in his career before undergoing a back fusion procedure in 2017, has not set a timeframe to return to the PGA Tour but said last month that he would love to play in the British Open next July.
“I couldn’t walk this golf course even right now, and it’s flat. I don’t have the endurance. My leg is not quite right yet and it’s going to take time,” said Woods. “I’m a long way, way from playing tournament golf.” – Rappler.com