Having repeatedly detailed how grateful he is to be healthy and competing on the PGA Tour again this season, Tiger Woods reflected Wednesday on a time when he thought he was done with golf.
Nick Faldo, a six-time major winner and analyst for CBS and Golf Channel, said on the Dan Patrick Show earlier this month that he overheard Woods at the 2017 Masters dinner — an event for previous champions — that he was “done” and that “I won’t play golf again.”
“At that time, I was done,” Woods said when asked about those comments Wednesday, at the Northern Trust Pro-Am at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. “I didn’t know what I was going to do be doing. I had no golf in my future at that time. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t sit.”
That year, Woods had attempted a comeback after sitting out all of 2016 following three back surgeries, but he stopped playing after three tournaments and had no shot to compete at Augusta National. He ended up having a fourth back procedure, a spinal fusion surgery, two weeks after The Masters.
“I left from to go see a specialist about what are my options,” Woods said.
“At the time, I needed to try and get rid of the pain. It wasn’t so much about golf. I tried everything. I tried stem cell; I tried Lidocaine; I tried Marcaine, nerve block. Nothing took the pain away.”
After sixth months without being allowed to swing a club, Woods slowly worked his way back to the point of competing regularly at age 42. He’s now headed into what should be his busiest stretch in the last nine years, with his likely appearance in seven events over the next nine weeks starting with The Northern Trust, which begins Thursday.
Despite not yet claiming a victory this year, Woods has regularly threatened, posting five top-six finishes since March, including three in his last four events. Two weekends ago at the PGA Championship, Woods finished runner-up and captivated the crowd along the way as he charged to a final round 6-under 64.
He said Wednesday that while crowds have cheered him on with similar fervor to years past, he’s felt a different sort of tenor in 2018.
“This entire year has been so different,” Woods said. “I’ve had excitement, I’ve had people into it over the years, but this has been so different.
.”.. I guess everyone knows it: I’ve struggled, I’ve had some back pain, I’ve gone through four surgeries and I’m trying to work my way back, and it’s been tough, and people understand that.”
Asked how he would characterize the difference, Woods said, “I think that people are more appreciative.”
“I don’t want to make that sound wrong or anything,” he continued, “but they know I’m at the tail end of my career. And I don’t know how many more years I have left, but I’m certainly not like I was when I was 22. At 42, this is a different ballgame.”
—Field Level Media