Tiger Woods speaks on golfing future: ‘Never full time, ever again’

Woods sat down for his first in-depth interview since the February car crash in which the golf legend sustained severe injuries.

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Golf legend Tiger Woods sat down for his first in-depth interview since the Los Angeles car accident earlier this year in which his right leg was severely injured.

Woods was driving to a GolfTV appearance on Feb. 23 when he veered his 2021 Genesis GV80 across a median on Hawthorne Boulevard in Rolling Hills Estates, rolled over multiple times, then crashed into a ditch.

Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the PNC Championship last December at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida. (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

In an exclusive interview Monday from his south Florida home with Golf Digest via Zoom, Woods addressed an eventual return to the sport, saying, “I think something that is realistic is playing the tour one day — never full time, ever again — but pick and choose, just like Mr. [Ben] Hogan did. Pick and choose a few events a year, and you play around that.” 

William Ben Hogan was a professional golfer whose winnings make him the fourth most-winning player of all time. Hogan’s prime career spanned 1938 to 1959, but in 1949, he and his wife survived a near-fatal car accident that left him almost debilitated by his injuries. Hogan later returned to golf professionally, but he would pick and choose what tournaments to play. A permanent gallery dedicated to Hogan’s life, career and comeback is on display at the United States Golf Association Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History in New Jersey.

Back in current times, Woods references the late golf great’s approach. “I think that’s how I’m going to have to play it from now on,” he says. “It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s my reality. And I understand it, and I accept it.”

Woods reminded Golf Digest’s Henni Koyack of the five surgeries he had on his back, including a spinal fusion in 2017. After that injury, he said, he “had to climb Mt. Everest one more time.”

“I had to do it, and I did,” Woods declared. “This time around, I don’t think I’ll have the body to climb Mt. Everest, and that’s OK.” 

If his leg completely recovers, Woods says, he still doesn’t think “climbing the mountain again and getting all the way to the top” is a “realistic expectation.” 

There was talk about whether Woods’ leg would have to be amputated, he said. He spent three weeks in the hospital and more time afterward in a rehabilitation facility. 

Last week, Woods shared a short video on Twitter of himself on the golf greens, fueling hopeful speculation that he would soon return to the PGA. However, he made it clear that he’s nowhere near that in reality. 

“I have so far to go … I’m not even at the halfway point,” he said. “I have so much more muscle development and nerve development that I have to do in my leg. At the same time, as you know, I’ve had five back operations. So I’m having to deal with that. So as the leg gets stronger, sometimes the back may act up. … It’s a tough road.”

Meanwhile, Woods has been enjoying watching his 12-year-old son, Charlie, play in golf tournaments around Florida. He noted young Charlie has a temper, but said he reminds the child: “Your head could blow off for all I care just as long as you’re 100-percent committed to the next shot. That’s all that matters. That next shot should be the most important shot in your life. It should be more important than breathing. Once you understand that concept, then I think you’ll get better.” 

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