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Sunday February 25, 2024

Tiger curious about form at ‘pain-free’ comeback

By AFP
November 30, 2023

MIAMI: Tiger Woods said on Tuesday his right ankle is without pain and he is not concerned about walking 72 holes this week in his return to competition for the first time since April ankle surgery.

Woods, a 15-time major winner, spoke ahead of Thursday's start of the Hero World Challenge, a 20-player event he hosts at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas.

“My game feels rusty. I haven’t played in a while,” Woods said. “I’m excited to compete and play and I’m just as curious as all of you to see what happens because I haven't done it in a while.”

Tiger Woods says he is pain-free in his surgically repaired right ankle and curious about his form this week as he makes his competitive return at the Hero World Challenge. — AFP
Tiger Woods says he is pain-free in his surgically repaired right ankle and curious about his form this week as he makes his competitive return at the Hero World Challenge. — AFP

Woods, who turns 48 on December 30, is playing competitively for the first time since undergoing right ankle surgery in April on the same leg that suffered severe injuries in a 2021 car crash.

“I don’t have any of the pain I had at Augusta or pre-that in my ankle,” Woods said. “Other parts are taking the brunt of the load so I’m a little more sore in other areas. “But the ankle is good so that surgery was a success.”

The 82-time PGA Tour winner has not played in an event since withdrawing from the third round of the Masters last April due to plantar fasciitis. “I’ve played a lot of holes,” Woods said. “But I haven’t used a pencil on a scorecard.”

Asked if he can still win, Woods replied, “Absolutely.” Woods said he could play as much as once a month in 2024, likely starting at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, which benefits his charity foundation, and flowing into the majors. “The best scenario would be maybe a tournament a month,” Woods said. “I think that’s realistic.

“I need to get myself ready for all of that. This week is a big step in that direction.” Woods was limping around Augusta National in pain seven months ago on the same layout where he won his first major in 1997 and his most recent in 2019.

“At some point in time, I was going to have to get my ankle replaced or fused,” Woods said. “That timetable was sped up. They weren’t expecting me to put that many forces into that ankle when I hit drivers. “The ankle just went. It was bone on bone. That’s why you saw me limping and not feeling very good... we chose the fusion and put the hardware in there.