It’s for real this time, and that has Tiger Woods a little nervous.
Woods isn’t pushing a false start this time, planning to go through with his return to competitive golf this week at his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Woods owns a home at the host club, Albany, and his newly announced TGR companies run and benefit from the event. And, unlike the Safeway Open, which he backed out of playing as his comeback start just days beforehand in Napa, Calif., Woods is a superstar in a very small field of superstars — Woods is one of only 18 players in the field. There’s no cut, either, meaning Woods has no excuse not to finish out the tournament, at least as far as the rules go.
All eyes are on Woods this week.
“I’m nervous for every tournament I play in, whether it’s after a layoff, or six in a row, or a major. I care. If I care, I’m nervous,” he told USA Today. “And it’s good to be that way. To have that nervous energy and channel it, into aggression, into focus, into concentration, that’s good stuff. If I wasn’t nervous, that would mean I didn’t care. I don’t want to be out there flat. I want to be out here so bad. And now I am.”
The 14-time major champion doesn’t look back with regret on the decision to pull out of the Safeway.
“It was a smart decision in the end to pull out of the tournaments,” he said. “The competitor inside me wanted to go so badly, I was itching to go, I had been playing at home, and I thought I could get it around. I had played feeling worse and won golf tournaments. But I finally decided why rush … I had waited more than a year, so let’s wait a little more and get it right.”
Woods maintains he has built up his stamina, on and off the golf course. At the urging of caddie Joe LaCava, Woods began walking more in practice rounds at his home club, Medalist in Florida, building from nine holes in back-to-back days to 72 holes in four days — in other words, a simulated tournament.
On Thursday, the comeback becomes real.