Tiger Woods quickly slapped down a suggestion from veteran Matt Kuchar that his game and swing was “Tour-ready” after the former world number one marked a playing return by finishing second with his son, Charlie, at the PNC Championship in Florida.
The 36-hole event was Woods first competition since the car accident in February which nearly cost him his leg, and he spent the majority of the time in a motorised cart in between shots.
A stunning final round of 57, which included 11 birdies in a row for team Woods, wasn’t enough to topple two-time major champion John Daly and his son, John Daly II, who were victorious in the team event.
Woods, who had already declared a full-time tour return in 2022 was unlikely, became the story after showing enough signs to suggest his game was further progressed than even the now 45-year-old had hoped.
But he was quick to downplay any suggestion he would do more than “pick and choose” where he would play for the rest of his career.
“No, no, no, no,” Woods said in response to Kuchar’s suggestion
“I totally disagree. I‘m not — I’m not at that level. I can’t compete again these guys right now, no. It’s going to take a lot of work to get to where I feel like I can compete at these guys and be at a high level.”
Instead Woods said he still had to push through quite a bit of pain just to get on-course with his Charlie, but it was all worth it.
“The competitive juices, they are never going to go away. This is my environment. This is what I‘ve done my entire life. I’m just so thankful to be able to have this opportunity to do it again. Earlier this year was not a very good start to the year and it didn’t look very good,” he said.
“But the last few weeks, to push as hard as we have the last seven months with taking no days off and just working our butts off each and every day, and to have this opportunity to be able to play with my son and to have these memories, for us, for both of us, our lifetime, it‘s worth all the pain.”
Woods said Charlie was even conscious of his father’s body, urging him not to play certain shots to avoid more pain.
“There are days when they have to put the reins on me because I want to go and I get the competitive juices going, just like do I on the golf course and I want to hit certain shots,” he said.
“Charlie was out there telling me a couple times yesterday and today, “Don‘t hit that shot, you know what that does.”
“I said, “Just worry about your own game.”
A week Team Woods will always remember. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ZrEMVmzRDZ
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) December 19, 2021
Woods said he couldn’t lock in a PGA Tour return date, or confirm whether he’ll play the Masters in April, which will now feature six Australians after confirmation Min Woo Lee finished 2021 inside the world’s top 50.
“So I don‘t know how many events I’m going to be playing in,” he said.,
“It’s going to be up to training sessions, practice sessions, recovery tactics, all those different things to be able to do it.
“As I said — protective on it now, and just so thankful to be able to do this again because it didn’t look good there for a little about it.”