LOS ANGELES – Two months after his encouraging performance at the PNC Championship, Tiger Woods said Wednesday that he hasn’t made much progress physically as he continues to recover from serious injuries to his right leg.
Approaching the one-year anniversary of his horrifying single-car accident in Los Angeles that altered the trajectory of his career, Woods offered no timetable for a return to competition but reiterated that he plans to come back.
“I wish I could tell you when I’m playing again,” he said. “I want to know, but I don’t.”
Woods is here at Riviera not as a player but as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational, where 19 of the top 25 players in the world have assembled. For Woods, there’s been breathless speculation about another tournament start after he impressed at the PNC in December, when he competed alongside son Charlie in the 36-hole exhibition less than 10 months after the crash.
Continuing to temper expectations for his comeback, Woods reminded that there’s a significant difference between riding around in a cart “like a weekend warrior” and battling the world’s best – all younger, fitter, stronger – at a major championship.
Progress has been slow. Over the past two months he said his golf activity has been “very limited,” with a greater emphasis on his short game and short-iron play. Woods said he hasn’t “seriously” devoted much time to his longer clubs, because the loading onto his back leg puts more torque and strain on his battered body.
More than any technical aspect of his swing as he adjusts to his new limitations, Woods said that his greatest challenge is actually the most fundamental in tournament golf: walking.
Full-field scores from The Genesis Invitational
“I can walk on a treadmill all day, that’s easy,” he said. “That’s just straight – there’s no bumps in the road. But walking on a golf course where there’s undulations, I have a long way to go. My leg was not in a very good position there about a year ago, and I’ve had to work through a lot of different operations and a lot of different scenarios.
“It’s been tough, but I’ve gotten here. I’ve gotten this far, and I still have a long way to go. Each and every day is a fight, and I welcome that fight. Get up in the morning, let’s go a few more rounds.”
Naturally, the conversation surrounding Woods will soon shift to his readiness for the Masters, which begins in seven weeks. Though he said that he could walk the Par 3 Contest now, he isn’t sure whether he would. Answers about his fitness for the tournament proper will come later.
“What’s frustrating is, it’s not at my timetable,” he said. “I want to be at a certain place, but I’m not. I’ve just got to continue working. I’m getting better, yes, but not at the speed and rate that I would like. You add in the age factor, too (he turned 46 in December). You just don’t quite heal as fast, which is frustrating.”