INZAI, Japan — Tiger Woods says he’s rested and healthy, but the 15-time major champion isn’t committing to using a Presidents Cup captain’s pick on himself. At least not yet.
Speaking before MGM Resorts The Challenge: Japan Skins, Woods said his surgically repaired left knee has healed ahead of schedule and that he feels well enough to navigate his end-of-year schedule, which is set to include this week’s ZOZO Championship and the Hero World Challenge (Dec. 4-7). Woods also will be traveling to Australia for the Presidents Cup (Dec. 13-15), where he’ll captain the American team, but stopped short of saying he’ll do so as a playing captain.
“I had the procedure a little bit early and got ahead of it,” said Woods, who explained he had scheduled the surgery for after the Tour Championship, but when he didn’t qualify for East Lake, moved it up a week. “I thought I had enough time to rehab it correctly and be ready for [The Challenge], be ready for Hero. And I’m going to Australia either way, whether I’m playing or not.”
Woods noted that his initial plan was to have the procedure—which repaired minor cartilage damage in his knee—after last year’s Hero World Challenge. But because he was playing so well toward the end of last summer, when he won the 2018 Tour Championship, he decided to keep playing and postpone the operation until after the 2018-’19 PGA Tour season.
“I want to be fit for the end of the year,” Woods said. “I’ve been kind of battling through this entire year and trying to piece it together. It’s nice to finally get over the hump and start feeling good again, and start going at it full speed.”
Woods said his knee grew more bothersome as 2019 wore on, and that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to finish out his year without surgery.
“It progressively got worse and got to the point where it was affecting even reading putts,” Woods said. “You could see it towards the end of the year, I wasn’t quite getting down with my putts well.
“Having it done was … unfortunately, I’ve been down this road before with knee rehabs and knew the protocols.”
Woods’ left knee has given him trouble in the past. He had surgery on it in 1994 to remove benign tumors in scar tissue, another surgery in 2002 to remove fluid around the ACL, and he famously tore the ACL in that same knee before winning the 2008 U.S. Open.
In addition to rehabbing the knee, Woods has spent time in recent weeks evaluating his options as he gets closer to having to make his captain’s picks ahead of the competition against the International team at Royal Melbourne in December.
“I’ve been pretty consumed by it,” Woods said of the captain’s pick process. “It’s been a fun process to be a part of. I’ve been part of it the last couple years as a vice captain, and now having three great vice captains and being able to communicate with all the eight guys who they want on the team and who they think will fit on the team.”
Whether that includes him among the 12 players is still uncertain.