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Nine months after his near fatal car accident, Tiger Woods has given his first update on whether he’ll play professional golf again.
In an exclusive interview with GolfDigest, Woods said his days of playing full-time on the PGA Tour are likely over. An unfortunate reality, but one he accepts.
“I think something that is realistic is playing the tour one day—never full time, ever again—but pick and choose, just like Mr. [Ben] Hogan did. Pick and choose a few events a year and you play around that,” Woods said. “You practice around that, and you gear yourself up for that. I think that’s how I’m going to have to play it from now on. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s my reality. And I understand it, and I accept it.”
Woods, 45, was involved in a single-car crash on Feb. 23, where he required the “jaws of life” to remove him from the vehicle. Woods was taken to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he underwent surgery for multiple leg injuries. He reportedly suffered broken bones in both his legs and compound fractures. At one point, Woods feared his leg would have to be amputated.
Just when It looked like Woods’ golf career was over, he released a video on Twitter last week hitting golf balls with a sleeve on his right leg.
The 15-time major winner has been cleared for very limited full-swing practice. He’s also been putting, using a longer version of his trademark Scotty Cameron putter. It’s only the beginning for Woods, who has a long way to go.
“I have so far to go … I’m not even at the halfway point,” Woods said. “I have so much more muscle development and nerve development that I have to do in my leg. At the same time, as you know, I’ve had five back operations. So I’m having to deal with that. So as the leg gets stronger, sometimes the back may act up. … It’s a tough road.
“But I’m just happy to be able to go out there and watch Charlie play, or go in the backyard and have an hour or two by myself with no one talking, no music, no nothing. I just hear the birds chirping. That part I’ve sorely missed.”
With Woods recovering, 2021 saw the emergence of new stars on the PGA Tour. Jon Rahm, now the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world, won his first career major at the U.S. Open in June. Collin Morikawa, meanwhile, won his second career major at The Open in July.
There’s many stars for Woods to compete against, but Woods says getting back to the top isn’t realistic for him. Woods might’ve defied the odds and won the Masters in 2019, however, don’t expect that this time around.
“I don’t have to compete and play against the best players in the world to have a great life,” Woods said. “After my back fusion, I had to climb Mt. Everest one more time. I had to do it, and I did. This time around, I don’t think I’ll have the body to climb Mt. Everest, and that’s OK. I can still participate in the game of golf.
“I can still, if my leg gets OK, I can still click off a tournament here or there. But as far as climbing the mountain again and getting all the way to the top, I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation of me.”