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NASSAU, Bahamas – News that Tiger Woods said he has accepted the reality that he may never play at the highest level again, his body broken to the point he wouldn’t be able to get ready to compete, quickly spread through the Hero World Challenge, which has attracted 20 of the game’s best players.
Woods also said he’d still have a great life even if he never returned to the PGA Tour, but if his body allows, and he finds the intensity once again to rise from the damage, he’d try to play a few tournaments a season on the PGA Tour.
That was welcomed news from his peers, who are grateful to see Woods again after a horrible, one-car rollover accident in February nearly took his life. Whatever Woods’ future holds, the players said, it’s just great news that he is back and potentially could make enough progress to return to the PGA Tour.
Here are some of the player’s reactions.
“I know I’ll be pulling for him and helping him in any way I can. His body has gone through what it has, but if he were to return to the PGA Tour, it would mean a lot. But he has to decide if he wants to try and come back, and then wonder if he can compete, and have fun, and feel that it’s worth it. He’s done enough for the Tour. At least in my eyes. Anything else he does is a bonus. I’ve said many times, don’t doubt him. If he can come back, if he decides to come back, he will.”
Playing Captain Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas celebrate defeating Byeong-Hun An and Hideki Matsuyama on the 18th green during Friday foursome matches on day two of the 2019 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Course on December 13, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images)
“He’s been through a hard, nine, 10 months. I think the fact that he’s come to that reality on his own, that he might not play again and he’s OK with that is great. What he has given this game is a legacy that will never go unnoticed. There is nothing else he has to prove. But he’s such a beast. He always feels like he has something to prove, whether to himself, to the people that continue to doubt him. It sounds like, to be able to put that to rest, to feel he doesn’t have to have something to prove, that will help him.
“For us, to be able to enjoy just having Tiger back in any way, shape or form, for me, that’s a blessing. It’s sad that potentially we have seen the best of Tiger, that we might not see him play again, that he just can’t climb that mountain again, but we have to enjoy what we have. We have Tiger back. That wasn’t a guarantee at any point in the last 10 months. To hear that his body, his leg, might not let him be able to come back, that is sad. But to even have him back, to maybe see him play a few tournaments next season or the seasons to come, no matter how he plays, that’s a blessing for all of us. So many of us are out here because of Tiger. I saw him earlier today, spoke to him for a few minutes, and it’s already been the highlight of the week. He could walk away from the game at any given moment. There is no reason for him to play at all. But we know his nature, and he’s going to give it a shot. And that’s great to hear. And whatever he has left, he’s going to go out on his shield, and we’re blessed to have him back and blessed to see him.”
Tiger Woods (right) greets Tony Finau after putting on the 18th green during the final round of The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)
“I don’t know the extent of his injuries other than they were really bad, but I think the fact that he believes he can play again is great for the game of golf. Even if he plays five or six times a year, or three times a year, those are going to be the three biggest events of the year, aren’t they? To have him still involved in golf is huge. It has been a long road of recovery and there’s still a long road ahead. But he is golf. It’s just awesome that he’s still around and still able to play, hopefully, and still wanting to try and play at the highest level.”
United States team member Daniel Berger, second from left, with his girlfriend along with Tiger Woods, second from right, the assistant United States team captain, and his girlfriend, during the four-ball golf matches on the third day of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
“It’s great to hear him say he wants to try and play again and play Tour events. It sucks he can’t play a full schedule. I totally get it. Hopefully he can gear up for the majors and a couple big-time tournaments. We all want to see him back; we all want to see him healthy and playing like the Tiger Woods we’ve seen the last 20 years. It seems like he’s in great spirits. He’s obviously working his ass off; there’s nobody who works harder than him. He’s going to do everything in his power to get back. It seems he’s OK with where’s he’s at. He hasn’t turned the page as a competitor, but he’s entered a new phase of life, which we all get to, and he seems content with it. Which is cool for me to see. We all want to see Tiger happy.
“If he does come back, as everybody knows, when Tiger is playing, literally the whole world tunes in. If 10 people, 100 people get introduced to golf because of that and take up the game, that’s massive. The PGA Tour is in a great spot right now, with so many young players, so much depth, and Tiger would certainly add to that if he’s able to play again.”
Tiger Woods of the United States and Harris English of the United States walk across a bridge during a practice round prior to the start of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on August 6, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
“As a player and seeing what he’s gone through, and not just this time but all those other injuries and surgeries, it’s hard to tell what will happen. It’s Tiger Woods we’re speaking of. I’d put nothing past him. You never know. He’s been discarded before. But he has come back, and he’s won. It’s awesome to see him swing a golf club again. We didn’t know if we’d ever see that again. It lifted the moral of the players and himself and the fans. Even if he came back and played just the father-son again, that would be huge for him.
“He’s played so much golf and done so much for the game of golf, and he’s arguably been the best player to ever live on this planet, there comes a time where you are going to shut it down and enjoy life and spend time with your kids. This time it might be a forced retirement, but at the same time, he’s sat down and realized that for what he’s done and how hard he’s hit it and how hard he’s played, it might be time to shut it down and he’s OK with that.”
Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed walk the 6th hole during a Ryder Cup practice round at Le Golf National. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
“I’m happy I got to experience him at a high level (Ancer lost to Woods in singles in the 2019 Presidents Cup the U.S. won). In a really pressure-packed match. It was really cool for me and I learned a lot from him in that match. I don’t know where his head is at. Obviously he’s been through a lot. I can see him making golf completely secondary. You know, family first, and his quality of life, too. We all hope he can make it back out here and play some more events. But the most important thing in his mind is his family and having a good time. If he does come back, every time Tiger shows up at an event, it’s completely different. He transforms the events.”
U.S. team player and captain Tiger Woods, right, shakes hands with International team player Abraham Ancer of Mexico after Woods won their singles match 3 and 2 during the President’s Cup golf tournament at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)