After finishing 47th at The Masters in April, 15-time major champion Tiger Woods says his surgically repaired right leg is feeling stronger and he will tee it up this week at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“It’s only going to keep getting stronger,” Woods told reporters Sunday. “The more I use it, the more strength it gains. Am I ever going to have full mobility? No. Never again. But I’ll be able to get stronger. It’s going to ache, but that’s the way it’s going to be.”
The Masters was Woods’ first professional start since suffering catastrophic injuries in a horrific car crash on Feb. 23, 2021. Woods nearly lost his right leg and had to have a steel rod, pins and screws inserted during intense orthopedic surgery.
It was unclear after the Masters if Woods was going to play the PGA Championship. The only major he committed to after Augusta is the British Open in July, at his favorite course, St. Andrews in Scotland.
But Woods flew to Tulsa in late April and played a practice round at Southern Hills, and that, coupled with his increased strength has convinced him he’s ready to play. He has won the PGA Championship four times. The last time was in 2007 at Southern Hills.
“I’m excited about [the week],” Woods said. “I’m not going to play that much going forward, so anytime I do play, it’s going to be fun to play and to compete. There are only so many money games you can play at home.”
Even when he was healthy Woods always prioritized peaking for golf’s four majors. The Masters, U.S. Open, The British Open, and PGA Championship. Given his surgically repaired body and his age (46), playing the majors might be all he’s capable of physically.
The old major schedule would’ve probably suited him better. The Masters in April, US Open in June, Open Championship in July, and PGA in August. Now the PGA has moved up to May.
Still, one major tournament roughly every five weeks for four months is a lot to ask. Mentally it’s extremely difficult, but in Woods’ case the physicality is what will be his biggest hurdle.
Will he have enough time to get the requisite recovery and strength training he needs? He talked about the challenges he faces physically in April at the Masters.
“It’s just a matter of what my body’s able to do the next day and the recovery. That’s the hard part. Yes, we push it and try and recover the best we possibly can that night and see how it is the next morning. Then all the activations and going through that whole process again, and you warm it up, and then you warm it back down, or test it out, and then you’ve got to cool it back down. Then you’ve got to do that day in and day out.
It gets agonizing and teasing because of simple things that I would normally just go do that would take now a couple hours here and a couple hours there to prep and then wind down. So activity time to do what I want to do, it adds more time on both sides of it pre and post.
So that has been — it’s not like something I haven’t done, but the times have gotten longer on both sides.”
A win this week, though unlikely, would give Woods his 16th major championship. Two short of Jack Nicklaus’ record 18. He would also become the PGA Tour’s winningest golfer with 83 career victories.