The GOAT Eldrick “Tiger” Woods will tee it up starting today at the Genesis Invitational in Pacific Palisades, California. The 15-time major championship winner is making his first start in an official PGA Tour event since he missed the cut at the 150th British Open Championship at St. Andrews last July. But ever the laser-focused competitor, Woods says he expects to compete to win.
“I’m excited to go out there and compete and play with these guys,” Woods said. “And I would not have put myself out here if I didn’t think I could beat these guys and win the event. That’s my mentality. I am very rusty, but I’ve come off a rusty situation before and I’ve done well.”
Injuries have been prevalent over the last decade
At 47 years of age, after multiple injuries, back surgeries, almost losing his leg after the car accident, he is not physically able to do what he once was. Now it’s all about recovery and getting his body ready to handle four rounds of golf a few times a year. Definitely the four majors and a few prestigious events, like the Genesis Invitational where he is the host, as tuneups.
Woods played at the PNC Championship in December with his son Charlie and his game looked strong, leading many to speculate a return to official PGA action. The major difference is an event like the PNC and some of the other tourneys he’s done for charity, like The Match, allow him to use a cart. There will be no such luxury on tour. He will have to walk all 18 for four rounds.
“As you watch that PNC, I was able to play out of the cart and hit shots and do whatever I wanted, but I just didn’t have the endurance in my ankle, so we’ve been working on that,” Woods said. “I can still hit shots, but it’s the walking endurance that’s hard. That’s something that we’ve had to work on — walking distances on the beach, just basically stress it out but also be able to recover by the next day and see how it is inflammation-wise and then keep practicing. I may have overdone it a couple times here or there, but here I am.”
Still a competitor
It’s cool and windy in Pacific Palisades this time of year. Getting his body warmed up and keeping it from getting stiff over the course of each round of golf will be the challenge. His physiology team will be working overtime to manage the inflammation and swelling in his various limbs and joints and to work out the lactic acid build up.
But this was his plan all along, so the team knows what they’re in for.
“The plan was to play [in the Genesis],” he said. “Whether or not this body would listen to me or not was the main question. As I told some of you guys that were down at the Hero and the [PNC Championship], I could do the Ranger Rick thing, so I can hit golf balls and do all that stuff. It’s a matter of whether I have endurance in my leg. We’ve been pushing it pretty good and [was] able to recover each and every day, which is great. So I’m excited about being able to compete and play and play here at Riviera, where basically it all started.”
Woods tees off Thursday afternoon in a featured group with fellow major championship winners and friends Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas.