Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

Tiger Watch

Tiger Woods fans, stay calm! Here's the simple reason he only played nine holes at the Hero World Challenge pro-am

November 29, 2023

Tiger Woods hits a drive during Wednesday's pro-am at the Hero World Challenge. Woods is playing in a tournament for the first time since having surgery on his right ankle in April.

David Cannon

NASSAU, Bahamas — Intent on limiting the workout he’s giving his surgically repaired right ankle ahead of his return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods played only nine holes during his Wednesday pro-am round.

Before golf fans panic, Woods didn’t cut short his round due to any physical issues. The host of the $4.5 million event at Albany made the decision before he teed off at 8:20 a.m. ET, according to tournament officials and Woods’ caddie and business partner Rob McNamara.

Woods, 47, joined his four amateur partners for lunch in the clubhouse after posing for group photos on the ninth green while the remainder of the field continued to play 18 holes in the pro-am.

“He decided this morning. He’s fine,” McNamara said.

Woods tees off in the first round of the Hero at 11:52 a.m. Thursday with Justin Thomas. It will be his first start in this tournament since he finished fourth in 2019.

“He’s got 72 holes ahead of him. He just wants to be ready for tomorrow,” said Hero MotoCorp executive chairman Dr. Pawan Munjal, who played with Woods on the front nine at Albany.

Woods is attempting to compete for the first time since he withdrew from the Masters midway through the third round. Two weeks after that early departure from Augusta National Golf Club, the Hall of Famer underwent fusion surgery on his right ankle.

Though he walked with the slightest hint of a limp Wednesday morning, the 15-time major winner did not appear to be in any distress for his nine-hole round. Unofficially, he shot even-par 36 with birdies at Nos. 3 and 9 offset by bogeys on the sixth and eighth holes.

Woods said on Tuesday that he would set a schedule for 2024 after playing in this week’s event and in the PNC Championship with his son Charlie in two weeks. He set a goal of playing once a month during the PGA Tour season, if all goes well and he can handle the walking.