Tiger irritated at pace of recovery: ‘Still working’

LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods said he will be back playing golf on the PGA Tour; he just doesn’t know when.

As Woods, 46, nears the one-year anniversary of the car wreck that nearly cost him his right leg and led to multiple surgeries, he said Wednesday that he’s making progress — but not nearly as fast as he wants.

“I wish I could tell you when I’m playing again,” Woods said during a news conference at the Genesis Invitational, which benefits his foundation. “I want to know, but I don’t. My golf activity has been very limited. I can chip and putt really well and hit short irons very well, but I haven’t done any long stuff seriously. I’m still working.

“I’m still working on the walking part. My foot was a little messed up there about a year ago, so the walking part is something that I’m still working on, working on strength and development in that. It takes time. What’s frustrating is it’s not at my timetable. I want to be at a certain place, but I’m not. I’ve just got to continue working. I’m getting better, yes. But as I said, not at the speed and rate that I would like. You add in the age factor, too. You just don’t quite heal as fast, which is frustrating.”

On Feb. 23, 2021, Woods was involved in a single-car rollover crash not far from Riviera Country Club. The SUV that he was driving crossed through two oncoming lanes, struck a curb and uprooted a tree on a downhill stretch in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside Los Angeles. He was wearing a seatbelt, and officers found him still sitting in the SUV.

Woods was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center by ambulance. He had open fractures in the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula in his right leg. He told reporters at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in late November that doctors nearly had to amputate his right leg.

“It’s altered,” Woods said. “My right leg does not look like my left leg, let’s put it that way.”

Woods said he hasn’t been able to ramp up his golf activity outside of chipping and putting, because it would require him to put too much weight and torque on his right leg.

“I can walk on a treadmill all day, that’s easy,” Woods said. “That’s just straight; there’s no bumps in the road. But walking on a golf course where there’s undulations, I have a long way to go. My leg was not in very good position there about a year ago, and I’ve had to work through a lot of different operations and a lot of different scenarios.

“It’s been tough, but I’ve gotten here, I’ve gotten this far and I still have a long way to go. Each and every day’s a fight, and I welcome that fight. Get up in the morning, let’s go a few more rounds.”

In mid-December, Woods was able to play in a 36-hole scramble event with his son, Charlie. Woods used a golf cart and did some walking.

“I can still play, but I’m in a cart,” Woods said. “Being a weekend warrior is easy; that’s not that hard. Hit your ball, hop in a cart, ride, barely step out of the cart, grab your club and hit the next one. And the longest walk you have is probably from, what, the cart to the green and back.

“I can do that; that’s not that hard. But walking a golf course, that’s a totally different deal. Then walking out here for days on end, long days. Don’t forget when my back was bad, when we had rain delays and had to reactivate everything and go back out there again. I’ve still got that issue, too.”

Woods, a five-time Masters champion, wouldn’t say whether he will try to compete in the par-3 tournament at Augusta National in April.

Even if the 15-time major champion doesn’t make it back on tour this season, he says he’s fortunate to be in the position he is today — even if he’s still far from playing competitive golf again.

“I’m very lucky, very lucky,” Woods said. “As a lot of you guys know, I didn’t know if I was going to have the right leg or not. So to be able to have my right leg still here, it’s huge. I still have a lot of issues with it, but it’s mine and I’m very thankful for that. Thankful for all the surgeons and doctors and nurses that, for all the countless surgeries that we went through and countless rehabs and the [physical therapy] sessions are brutal, but it’s still mine, and I’m very thankful for that.”