Tired Tiger Woods Takes His First Steps To Golf Greatness


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ORLANDO, Fla .– At 8:23 a.m., when Tiger Woods walked around the training ground here at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club – barely limping in his step yet – it was like a receiving line back.

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There was a hug and laugh from fellow PGA Tour player Bubba Watson, a handshake from Vijay Singh, and punches with three or four others from the fraternity of great golf champions.

Once in his place at the far end of the lineup, Woods began hitting balls while keeping a close eye on his 12-year-old son Charlie, his playing partner in the PNC Championship, a 36-hole event that starts on Saturday.

After his round, Merry Mex himself, Lee Trevino, 82, passed his knowledge on to two generations of Woods golfers.

In the opinion of the world’s most famous golfer, it was good to be back.

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What was not clear, however, was whether Tiger missed golf more than Tiger missed golf in the past 10 months since his horrific car crash in California that severely damaged his right leg.

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Over the coming days and weeks, we’ll get a better idea of ​​the possibilities that accompany the return of one of the sport’s greatest transcendent stars. Will we see him at the Masters in April or the Open Championship at Old Course in St. Andrews in July?

Let’s come to the point where he can run a golf course first, even mostly flat terrain like the Greg Norman-designed resort he’s playing this week while riding a cart.

“It’s going to take a while,” said a tired Woods after essentially shutting it down for the last four holes of his round. “I couldn’t walk on this golf course here right now. I don’t have the stamina and my leg is not quite straight. That will take time. I am far from golf tournaments.

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“Being able to practice, practice and hit the ball after the round – all the things I have to do to be at a high level… I’m far from it.”

All things considered, there was still a lot to celebrate on Friday, starting with Woods being on his feet and swinging the club. Of course, he was visibly tired over the last nine and there was naturally some fatigue in his injured leg.

But with a new TaylorMade rider up his sleeve, out of the top nine Woods hit a handful of records in the 280-290 range, well below his peak years and well on the fairway some of the young guns bombard today. hui.

Tiger’s short game had a number of brilliant moments on Friday, likely because he avoided the boredom of his recovery by hitting shots that don’t require full shots.

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“I’m just starting to start trying to play again,” Woods said of a game that was once famous for its muscle. “I don’t quite have the stamina that I would like to have. I still have the hands, the feeling. Unfortunately, the speed is not there.

“It’s just not that powerful. The ball doesn’t fly that far. I can’t generate the speed I used to. The body is not what it used to be. Slowly but surly, I hope that the speed will return and that I can hit the punches that I see.

The hope is that some of that distance will come back if and when he strengthens his leg.

The bottom line is that Woods doesn’t know what to expect this weekend, next month, or the entire 2022 season. His renowned competitiveness will surely push his physical limits, but even that might not be enough.

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“I still have a long way to go in this rehab process,” said Woods. “Like I said, I don’t have the stamina to be here to play at Tour level. This (a Pro Am in a silly season event) is different. To hit certain hits and (where) a hit determines whether you win or lose, it’s a whole different mindset than we have here this week.

“I’m not there yet.”

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There is no doubt that Woods had fun on Friday and will have more of the same on the weekend. On his way to the first tee he shouted “Cart passing by.” I always wanted to say that.

He seemed to enjoy a post-round workout with Charlie, who towered over the old man on a number of holes. Woods also offered a sobering glimpse into what he overcame, punctuated with a sense of gratitude for even being here.

“The leg was pretty messed up,” Woods said. “I’m glad he’s still attached.”

And given that excruciating, happy to be back in the part of the world that defines him, even with the limitations he currently faces.

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