The Hero World Challenge began with a bummer – the withdrawal of Tiger Woods citing plantar fasciitis – but he was still ever-present and top of mind all week as the tournament host.
Woods gave putting tips to pro-am participants, spent time in the TV booth and gave a better than most news conference during which time he roasted Greg Norman, ripped the Official World Golf Ranking, made an inaccurate claim about the Tour taking a loan during the pandemic and dropped some news about having had surgery.
While we will have to wait a little longer to see him play some hit and giggle golf this month – his first time playing publicly since the British Open in July – we did learn a few things along the way from and about Tiger.
Tiger reveals he's had a 'couple of surgeries' but little else
Tiger Woods at the 2022 Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
In addition to revealing that he was suffering from plantar fasciitis, Tiger disclosed rather nonchalantly that he had undergone surgery yet again. But when pressed for details, he offered little.
Q: Can you elaborate?
TIGER WOODS: Nope.
Q. Can you say when?
TIGER WOODS: In the past.
Q: In the past?
TIGER WOODS: This year.
Thank you, Bones.
TIGER WOODS: You’re welcome.
A classic Tiger exchange when it comes to the state of his health. It was more surprising that he dropped that info at all than that he refused to share the most basic details – was it his leg? Foot? Knee? Before or after the British? Inquiring minds want to know. What he did reiterate was that he’s on borrowed time. Tiger added this about his 2023 golf plans.
“The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more. That’s it,” he said. “Physically that’s all I can do. I told you that, guys, you know, the beginning of this year, too. I mean, I don’t have much left in this leg, so gear up for the biggest ones and hopefully, you know, lightning catches in a bottle and I’m up there in contention with a chance to win and hopefully I remember how to do that.”
Tiger was on the clock for slow play at the Masters
Tiger Woods and Jon Rahm on the eighth hole during the final round of the 2022 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports)
It was beyond impressive that Tiger teed it up – “I didn’t think he was going to be playing a tournament last year,” Justin Thomas said during his pre-tournament news conference – let alone made the cut at the Masters barely a year after a near-fatal car accident. According to Jon Rahm, who played alongside Tiger in the following round, the pair were put on the clock on the seventh hole.
“He was somehow trying to speed up, I was looking at him like – we all looked at the official, like he can’t walk any faster, let’s be honest. Like he was already doing an amazing job trying to move up and down those hills. We all joked around with the official and then when he turned around, Tiger takes off and I’m looking at my caddie, like, well, this is incredible.”
Rahm noted that they ended up having to wait to go for the par-5 8th in two, and marveled at how Tiger disguised the pain he was in.
“He puts on a bit of a show for the camera, like he’s not going to show how much he’s really hurting,” Rahm said. “When we finished scoring, just seeing him stand up and move around that room when there’s nobody watching, there’s a difference, especially after playing 18 holes and after sitting down when your legs cool off a little bit, it changes.”
Swing it like Rory
It’s become a December tradition to marvel at the developing golf game of Charlie Woods. In the lead up to the PNC Championship later this month, Tiger was asked what advice he’s given his 13-year-old son.
“I told him, don’t copy my swing. Copy Rory’s,” Woods said.
Not the swing of his old man, the 15-time major champion. Why not? Tiger explained that it had to do with a tip his father had taught him about the importance of balance.
“Have you ever seen Rory off balance on a shot? No. Not ever,” Woods said Saturday on NBC. “You can swing as hard as you want on a shot, but you need to have balance.”
Tiger also share this update on Charlie’s game:
Tiger digs the swing of Max Homa too
It isn’t just Rory’s swing that Tiger gushed over this week.
Tiger wore a microphone when he competed in the Hero World Shot competition and his conversation with Justin Thomas captured his man crush for Max Homa’s swing.
“I like his move, short and compact,” Woods said. “You see the cast at the top? He’s got a little cast.”
Homa was flattered, tweeting back, “Thank you Tiger Woods, I think you have a good swing as well.”
“Yeah, I didn’t hear that, but it is crazy,” said during his pre-tournament press conference. “At the Open Championship when we played, he came up to me on like the fourth hole and said my swing looked great and I was hitting it really well. That was cool to hear. I think most guys have tried to take something from Tiger’s golf swing because it’s been so perfect for so many years, so it’s very nice to hear that … To hear a guy that, you know, I look up to and kind of play golf because he made it cool say something nice about me is great. And it was nice to beat him in the wedge thing yesterday, that felt really good.”
Tiger 'busier this year than he ever has'
Tiger Woods has been out of the public eye for much of the year, playing in only three majors and the J.P. McManus pro-am in Ireland ahead of the British Open. But behind the scenes, Woods has been active in the PGA Tour’s fight with LIV Golf. Most notably, he flew to Delaware for a players-only meeting with top players during the week of the BMW Championship.
“He’s probably been busier this year than he ever has any of the years he’s played and that’s just of the stuff I know, let alone the amount of meetings, calls that I don’t know,” Justin Thomas said.
He added: “As a player who’s playing on this Tour and having someone like him going to bat for you and speaking on your behalf and knowing that everything he’s saying has myself and all of my peers’ best interests in mind is pretty cool, because he’s Tiger Woods, he doesn’t need to do that. Who knows how much longer he’s going to play. Who knows, you know, what his future is going to hold, but he knows how much the PGA Tour has done for him and what the Tour has meant to him and he wants to continue to see it be the best product and the best place to play in the world and he’s put in a lot of work to make sure that’s true.”