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Tiger Watch

4 things we weren’t expecting from Tiger Woods in his return press conference

November 28, 2023
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Tracy Wilcox

He was always going to be asked about his health. And about where negotiations stand between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. And who might be on his bag when he competes this week at the Hero World Challenge and in 2024 when makes his more formal return to the PGA Tour.

Indeed, there was a lot of catching up to do with Tiger Woods as he met with the media Tuesday for the first time since his withdrawal at the Masters in April—ahead of competing for the first time since his subtalar fusion surgery nearly eight months ago. And Woods addressed the big picture points by saying he was playing with no pain in his ankle, that the tour is hopeful a deal can still be finished by Dec. 31 and that close friend Rob McNamara will caddie the next few days but no long term looper is lined up yet.

Woods, however, also was asked about a few things that weren’t quite so obvious or pressing. And his answers were interesting.

Tiger thinks he might be playing a little more regularly

When Woods returned to action after his February 2021 car accident, he was quick to note that his competitive golf career would be much different moving forward. The injuries he sustained would prevent him from being a full-time player and that he would need to pick and choose his starts, hinting that beyond the majors we wouldn't be seeing much of Woods on the course. He reiterated those points in subsequent interviews at the three majors he competed in in 2022.

Sitting for another "return" press conference after another surgery and having played in just two tournaments in 2023, you figured Woods would probably repeat himself again when posed the question about an anticipated schedule for 2024. Instead, there was a more optimistic response.

"I think that best scenario would be maybe a tournament a month," Woods said. "I think that's realistic, whether that's … you would have to start with maybe at Genesis and something in March near the Players. Again, we have set up right now the biggest events are one per month. It sets itself up for that. Now, I need to get myself ready for all that. I think this week is a big step in that direction."

Given the new PGA Tour calendar, that would essentially amount to seven or eight starts in 2024. That doesn't sound like much until you consider eight is the total number of tournaments he's started between September 2020 until today. More over, he's played more than seven events in just three of the last nine seasons.

Tiger isn’t thinking about Ryder Cup 2025 just yet

In the wake of the Americans defeat at Marco Simone in September, there had been chatter that Woods should take the reigns as U.S. captain when the Cup is up for grabs at Bethpage in 2025. While Woods didn’t rule out the possibility, he also was quick to say it hasn’t been top of mind of late.

“Right now, there's too much at stake with our tour to think about a Ryder Cup right now,” Woods said. “We have to get this done and we have to be focused on this right now. The Ryder Cup can take a … the players and everyone involved understands that this is an issue we need to focus on.”

The delay in launching his tech-infused golf league might come with a silver lining

In development for more than 14 months, with all six teams and 24 players lined up, the TGL was less than two months from playing its inaugural match. But then a storm blew through Florida and tore the roof on the still-being-constructed SoFi Center, forcing Woods, Rory McIlroy and other officials to put everything on hold for a year. Given the hype behind the venture, it would be natural to think that Woods was upset with what happened. His response when asked about what happened, however, didn’t leave that impression.

“I think it was moving very quickly and I think we can take advantage of time delay,” Woods said. “I think that we can do it right and I think all the parties that are involved really feel that this is going to be the best thing for it. There's so many partners, so many people that are involved in this league that have had so much brand experience and they want to get it right, and they have gotten it right, they're billionaires. I think that if we're able to capture that I think going into '25, I think that it will be positive for all of us.”

The PGA Tour’s future is more likely to include team golf than you might have expected

There’s been a presumption since the framework agreement between the PGA Tour, the PIF and the DP World Tour was signed in June that should LIV Golf be consolidate in golf’s ecosystem, its “team concept” would likely disappear. But Woods hinted that there is likely to be an aspect of it moving forward (for the record, Tiger has an interest in team golf succeeding given the TGL is built around it).

“Now, as far as team golf, I think there is away in which we can all benefit from team golf, it's just how do we do it. We're just trying to figure out that process now. We have been, we've been doing it for months, trying to figure out how that all works, what does that landscape even look like and where do we play and what impact does it have on our PGA Tour schedule. I think that's something that we have focused on and we don't take lightly.”