We still have two days to wait until we get to see Tiger Woods back on the golf course in a PGA Tour event, but Tuesday was his return to the media scrum at the Quicken Loans National and it was a jovial Tiger who answered questions.
Woods admitted that if not for his foundation being associated with this golf tournament he probably wouldn't have come back as quick, but his body is ready and that the risk "is minimal" in a quicker return to competitive golf.
"If this wasn’t the foundation our impact with kids I probably would not [have come back this soon]," Woods said, mentioning that the initial return date his team had circled was the British Open next month.
"I'm actually probably ahead of schedule... We all thought the British Open would be my first event back. But I healed fast."
Woods talked about his return to playing golf, saying he "broke 50 for nine holes" on his initial return to the course, mentioning he was hitting 8-irons only 135 yards, some 40-50 yards short of what he would normally hit with that club, and that right after surgery he was able to putt, but had to fill the holes on his putting green at home with sand because he wasn't able to bend over to retrieve the balls.
Woods looked happy and healthy at the Congressional podium, talking about the U.S. Open ("I watched a little bit, but I watched more World Cup than golf,"), about the great season Jordan Spieth is having ("He's been playing great"), and even about a food adjustment he made that consisted of "anti-inflammatory meals."
Now all the attention turns to what will actually happen when Tiger gets on that first tee on Thursday in a real, competitive golf tournament. He might say his goals are the same for each golf tournament, but a realistic expectation for Woods would be to get around all four rounds without any health issues and without too much pressure on that back.
"Expectations don't change," Tiger said. "(Winning is) the ultimate goal. It's just that it's going to be a little bit harder this time. I just haven't had the amount of prep and reps that I would like, but I'm good enough to play, and I'm going to give it a go."
A member of the press asked Woods about all those crazy recovery shots he's hit over the years, and while he made a joke about never missing another fairway or missing another green, he will have some moment on Thursday or Friday when a ball is sitting in that deep Congressional rough and he's either going to have to gouge it out like the Tiger of old or just pitch it back in the fairway in hopes of not upsetting any part of his body.
Woods might say it's all good with his back, and everything is back to 100 percent, but nobody will really know until he's back in the ring taking punches. That said, I'll take a cautious Woods back on the PGA Tour over him sitting at home watching USA-Germany on Thursday morning.
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