MIAMI, United States, May 25 – Tiger Woods says while his surgically repaired back may never be 10-out-of-10 again, it won’t stop him from being healthy and ready to go when the PGA Tour starts up again.
The 44-year-old Woods says he’s been able to use the down time during the coronavirus pandemic to get himself in shape for an expected condensed fall golf season.
“It is going to be interesting,” said Woods during a four-man charity golf tournament in Florida on Sunday. “I am used to trying to peak for majors in April, May, June and July, forever. Now this (COVID-19) has changed everything. It is fluid. It is on the fly.”
Asked to rate how his back feels on a scale of one to 10, Woods said, “Well, let’s just say 10 is not what it used to be.”
PGA stars Woods and Phil Mickelson and two NFL quarterback legends Peyton Manning and Tom Brady squared off in an entertaining made-for-television charity golf event on Sunday that raised (Sh2.1bn) $20 million for coronavirus relief efforts.
The 18-hole match included nine holes of four-ball and nine holes of modified alternate shot, with on-course challenges for charitable funds.
Woods, who paired with Manning, showed no rust as they held off a back-nine rally from Mickelson and Brady for a one-up victory in the 18-hole match play format.
Sunday’s event, called “The Match: Champions for Charity,” was a rematch of sorts for Mickelson and Woods, who faced off in a similar charity event last year in Las Vegas. It also marked a return to the golf course for the both PGA stars due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PGA Tour is on hiatus until June 11, when the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial is scheduled to begin in Texas.
The charity match was the first competitive golf for Woods since the Genesis Invitational on February 16, where he shot weekend rounds of 76-77 to finish in 68th place at the Riviera Country Club course.
He said the forced break has been refreshing and described his health as surprisingly good considering he has been taken out of his regular training regime.
“It is to nice be at home training each and every day,” Woods said. “I get some treatment on it and get onto a routine basically.
“With this pandemic and everything that has happened, we (have) all been very careful and try to stay at home,” he said.
Woods says he has enjoyed spending more time with his family and has added tennis to his workouts.
“It has been good in that regard because I have been able to spend a lot of time with my kids. We had a lot of fun. This is the most amount of tennis I have played ever.”
The start of Sunday’s match was delayed by rain that fell steadily throughout the majority of the round.
Woods helped offset the difficult playing conditions Sunday by taking advantage of competing on his home course, the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound.
“I am just trying to hit it in the right spots. I kind of know this place,” he told a television interviewer early in his round.
The entertaining match featured plenty of friendly banter and trash talking going back and forth between four of North America’s biggest sport stars.
Brady, who recently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after winning six Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots, made the shot of the day on the par-five seventh.
– Wardrobe malfunction –
Brady had been struggling for much of the first round, but his approach on No. 7 landed just past the hole before spinning wildly to the right and rolling into the centre of the cup.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” an obviously relieved Brady said of his first good shot of the day.
The shot was notable for another reason: it included a wardrobe malfunction. Brady also split his pants on the shot, resulting in a hasty costume change.
“There was so much torque on that swing,” he joked.
The birdie also lightened the wallet of PGA golfer Brooks Koepka. When he saw Brady struggling early in the round, Koepka tweeted out a promise to donate $100,000 to charity if Brady could make a par on the front nine.
“Brooks owes me a little money,” Brady said following his surprise birdie.