Tiger Woods’ health, possible return dominate Presidents Cup

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Twenty questions were asked at the assistant captain’s news conference and 14 of them were directed at Tiger Woods. Half of the questions involved his health and post-surgery competitive desire.

Safe to say, he’s still missed.

The gathering was meant to be a chance for the International and United States assistant captains to share a few thoughts. Despite the briefing including three World Golf Hall of Famers (Fred Couples, Davis Love and Ernie Els) and always conversant fellows (Geoff Ogilvy, Jim Furyk, Tony Johnstone and Mike Weir), the assembled press wanted to know where Tiger’s comeback stands.

The short answer: he’s still just hitting 60-yard shots and cannot rule out the possibility of his career having ended.

“My timetable is based on what my surgeon said,” Woods said. “As I alluded to last week, I’m hitting 60-yard shots. I’m hitting it really straight. It’s a joke, smile, OK.”

Asked if he could see a comeback to competitive golf not happening, Woods projected a matter-of-fact tone.

“Yeah, definitely. I don’t know what my future holds for me,” he said. “As I’ve told you guys, I’m hitting 60-yard shots.”

Woods suggested his golf muscles are not in shape, though it’s clear his two-a-day lifting sessions are working. Maybe it’s the tight-fitting Team USA uniform or a robust lifting program, but Woods appears ripped.

“I’ve been out of the game for a while,” he said. “First thing’s first: Get my health organized. Make sure the pain goes away. Then, basically, just as I said, just keep waiting for what my surgeon says. I’ve given you guys the updates on what I can do as I progress, and that’s all I’m doing.”

The 41-year-old sounded enthusiastic about rejuvenating his competitive instincts watching the Presidents Cup, where he is an eight-time participant.

“I think it’s fun,” he said. “You know, I’ve been competing in golf tournaments since I was, what, 4 years old. From pitch, putt and drive to playing major championships, it’s always been fun to me.”

Woods’ participation as a radio-carrying, cart-driving assistant was in doubt because his back issues were so acute that even sitting in a cart proved uncomfortable.

“The bouncing just hurt too much,” he said. “Driving a car still hurt. So that’s all gone now, which is fantastic, and yeah, there were some intrepid times; not just for this golf tournament but for life going forward.”

Woods was less forthright with his views on recent athlete protests and backlash at President Donald Trump.

“Hopefully things can be healed,” he said. “We can progress as a nation and come together, not just only the near future, but for perpetuity.”

In the meantime, everyone just wants to know if Woods will be able to play golf, eliciting his longest answer.

“I’m very optimistic, and as I alluded to the guys here today, actually yesterday, just how – I’ve been out of the game for so long that I haven’t even seen ryegrass or bentgrass,” Woods said. “I’ve been out in Florida where it’s bermuda and sandy and grainy.

“You can’t miss a putt on these greens; they are so pure. They are perfect. That was kind of a funny part but overall I’m very optimistic how I’m progressing. Like I said, the pain’s gone, but I don’t know what my golfing body is going to be like, because I haven’t hit a golf shot yet.”

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