Tiger Woods completed his first competitive golf tournament since a horrific car accident last year. He finished +13 at the Masters, well out of contention. But the fact that he was able to walk and play four competitive rounds of major championship golf is a huge step in the right direction, and it gave the 15-time major championship winner the belief that he can play in more majors this year.
“It’ll be just the big events,” Woods said. “I don’t know if it’ll be Southern Hills or not. But I am looking forward to St. Andrews. That is something that is near and dear to my heart. I’ve won two Opens there, it’s the home of golf. It’s my favorite golf course in the world, so I will be there for that one. But anything in between that, I don’t know. I will try, no doubt. Like this week, I will try and get ready for Southern Hills, and we’ll see what this body is able to do.”
Golf has four major championships every calendar year. The Masters in April, the PGA Championship in May, the U.S. Open in June, and the British Open in July. These have always been the most important tournaments for Woods since he turned professional in 1996.
The difference now since his accident last year, is he is unable to practice as much and play in other tournaments to fine-tune his game for the majors. In his heyday he would tee it up 15-20 times a year.
At 46 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.
It’s likely Woods only tees it up for the majors the rest of his career.
Now that the PGA Championship has been moved up to May — it was held in August until 2019 — five weeks will probably not be enough time for him to rest, heal, recover, strengthen, and get practice in.
Woods was non-committal about the U.S. Open in June, which will be played at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But he was clear on playing the Open Championship in July at St Andrews in July.
St Andrews is known as the “Home of Golf” and Woods has won two of his three Open Championships at the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland. He loves links golf and St Andrews. As he is on the back nine of his career, he doesn’t want to miss opportunities to play majors at his favorite courses.
Just having the opportunity to compete at majors is huge for Woods. Despite not playing as well as he wanted to, he was grateful and optimistic.
“This tournament has meant so much to me and my family, this entire tournament,” Woods said. “[If] you go back to the year I was born, [that] was the year that the first Black man played in the Masters in Lee Elder. He was an honorary starter last year. He was there when I won in ’97. Twenty-five years later, here I am playing again. It’s meant a lot to me, and there’s no other place, no other major that we play in the same venue. St. Andrews is, obviously, near and dear to my heart because it’s the home of golf, and I’ve been able to win a couple of Opens there, but we rotate. This is different. This is where all the great champions have ever played.”
Woods’ win at the 2019 Masters may have been his last. This sport is a young man’s game, though his knowledge is such a huge advantage, particularly at courses like Augusta (Masters) and St Andrews (British Open). But he will continue to tee it up until he believes he’s no longer capable.