Tiger Woods says he is wholesome, chasing uncommon win at Genesis Invitational

Chatting with the media 20 hours earlier than teeing it up in his first official PGA Tour occasion in 10 months, Tiger Woods expressed optimism about his well being and his sport.

A lot has occurred since he withdrew within the third spherical of the Masters in April citing plantar fasciitis — most of it off the golf course. Having severed his 27-year partnership with Nike in January, he has a brand new 3-wood, a brand new clothes line and a brand new perspective as he makes his second consecutive look within the Genesis Invitational.

“I had an absolute blast at present,” the 48-year-old Woods stated after Wednesday morning’s Professional-Am through which he performed alongside Buffalo Payments quarterback Josh Allen and Angels outfielder Aaron Hicks. “A variety of speaking trash, telling tales … having fun with each other’s firm. Contemplating what he does for a residing and the pounding his physique takes, you’ll be able to see the enjoyment Josh has for the sport and he requested the questions solely fellow athletes can ask.”

Requested if the ankle fusion surgical procedure he underwent two weeks after the 2023 Masters is inflicting him discomfort, the reply was an emphatic “no.”

“My ankle doesn’t damage any extra,” Woods stated. “My again is fused too and different elements of my physique have taken the brunt of that. You adapt to soreness wherever it’s.”

The 15-time main champion just isn’t solely enjoying, he’s additionally internet hosting the four-day occasion. Woods stated he bodily feels able to competing regardless of the lengthy layoff.

“The primary factor is my swing,” Woods stated. “I attempt to ensure I can nonetheless it hit flush and stable. I don’t have the identical pace, I can’t observe for a similar variety of hours and what my physique does day-to-day and week-to-week seems totally different. Loads relies on my fingers. I’ve constructed my swing the final 4 or 5 years based mostly on my fingers and what that appears like.”

For the best participant of his technology and maybe probably the most recognizable athlete the world has ever seen, what’s there left so as to add to his resume?

Nicely, a Genesis Invitational title, for one factor.

Woods is tied with Sam Snead for many profession PGA Tour victories (every has 82). He wants yet another to have the report all to himself and it could be becoming if he had been to set it on the venue the place his legendary professional profession began in 1992 when he was a 16-year-old beginner.

“A win can be good,” he joked when requested why he has but to beat a course he readily admitted fits his sport, or at the very least used to.

“Historically I’ve not putted nicely right here and it’s irritating as a result of I really feel snug right here. Many of the holes are left to proper with small greens and I’ve by no means gotten sizzling with the putter. It’s a fader’s delight and I’ve at all times been a reasonably good iron participant, however for no matter motive I haven’t put 4 good rounds collectively at this occasion. I had an opportunity one 12 months towards Ernie [Els] and hit a foul ball on the final gap.”

Woods is making his fifteenth begin at Riviera. His finest outcome was a tie for second in 1999 when the Los Angeles-based occasion was referred to as the Nissan Open. Final 12 months, he made the lower and finally tied for forty fifth. His opening spherical begins at 9:25 a.m. Thursday in a threesome with Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland, who was granted an exemption after present process mind surgical procedure late final 12 months.

“It’s been full circle for me, having come out right here after I was 7 or 8 years previous the time Lanny [Wadkins] received it,” Woods added. “That is the place I performed my first tour occasion and now having my basis and being in command of that occasion I hope I determine one thing out and get in rivalry. As for Gary, folks don’t notice how scary that was for him. To return again the way in which he has … I applaud him for what he’s overcome.”

Relating to his new position as participant director on the tour’s coverage board, Woods confirmed his perception that Strategic Sports activities Group (SSG) is “the best accomplice for the PGA at a time once we want management.” He added that the Public Funding Fund deal is ongoing. “We’re nonetheless negotiating. We’d wish to have PIF be part of our tour and our product however financially we don’t now. We’re additionally wanting into fashions for the pathways again for LIV gamers. There’s no reply proper now. There are various levels of concepts.”

Max Homa, additionally a Southern California native, considers Riviera his dwelling course. He obtained the trophy from Woods after successful the match in 2021 and he was the runner-up to Jon Rahm final winter. He totally embraces the phenomenon generally known as the “Tiger impact.”

“I’m simply completely satisfied to see the person not limping as a lot,” stated Homa, who he teed off 40 minutes earlier than Woods on Wednesday and grew up strolling Riviera, the place he has 4 consecutive prime 10 finishes. “Each occasion is healthier when Tiger’s there. His presence alone makes it really feel a bit larger. When Tiger’s round, there’s much less folks watching you, however extra folks watching golf and it’s nice.”

Homa is amongst the gamers who determine to contend for the $4 million winner’s test in a subject that includes 10 of the highest 11 gamers within the World Golf Rankings and 9 of the highest 10 within the FedExCup standings. This new crop of expertise presents a problem that continues to drive Woods regardless of all he has achieved.

“I nonetheless love competing, enjoying, being a part of the sport of golf,” he stated. “It’s a sport of a lifetime and I don’t ever need to cease enjoying.”

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