Tiger Woods has last played a full PGA Tour schedule in 2019 but has targeted a ‘tournament a month’ in 2024; 15-time major champion has competed in the Hero World Challenge and PNC Championship to finish another injury-affected year
Last Updated: 17/12/23 11:32pm
Tiger Woods has set his sights on challenging for a record-breaking 83rd PGA Tour title in 2024 after seeing signs of encouragement in his two comeback appearances this month.
Woods finished 18th at the Hero World Challenge, his first start since undergoing ankle surgery after withdrawing from The Masters in April, then partnered his son Charlie to a tied-fifth finish at the PNC Championship.
The 47-year-old said earlier this month he was targeting ‘a tournament a month’ next season, having played just four majors and one full-field PGA Tour event since suffering career-threatening leg and ankle injuries in a car crash in February 2021, with Woods still confident of adding to his win tally.
“I think that given the fact that I’m able to practice and do the things that I know I can do, and prepare, I know that I can still do it [win],” Woods said. “I can still hit the golf ball.
“It’s just a matter of prepping and get enough reps in and get enough work in and being right physically, and endurance capability of it. I haven’t had the leg good enough where I’ve been able to compete and play a lot of rounds. I’ve had a lot of procedures over the years, and that’s just part of it.
“I know if I can practice, I know I can still do it. I can still hit the golf ball. I can still chip. I can still putt. Granted it’s also putting it all together for 72 holes. That’s the challenging part of it.”
How is Woods’ body feeling?
Woods said ahead of the Hero World Challenge that he was pain-free in his ankle since April’s fusion surgery but felt discomfort in other areas, although insisted after the PNC Championship he feels physically better than he did when he made a comeback at the Genesis Invitational earlier this year.
“I think that a lot of things are aching a lot more than my ankle, which is the way it goes,” Woods explained. “I’ll be able to walk and play. We’ve been working out hard, been able to recover. We’ve been training every day, which is great.
“It has been nice to knock off a lot of the rust and some of the doubt that I’ve had because quite frankly I haven’t hit a shot that counted in a long time. So having to post a score and hit shots on the right number, and hit shots with consequence, it’s been nice.
“My ankle was not good at that time [Riviera in February] and the recovery was a lot more difficult. But we’ve been training every day. After the Bahamas, we were in the gym on Monday. So we have been going after it.
“The ankle was fine because it’s now fused but other parts were definitely aching. But the fact that, you know, we were able to train right away and get after it, and start hitting balls, it was encouraging.”
Could Woods miss a major?
We would expect to see Woods back at Augusta National from April 11-14 to chase a record-equalling sixth Green Jacket, while the PGA Championship from May 16-19 takes place at Valhalla – the venue where Woods lifted the Wanamaker Trophy in 2000 as part of the ‘Tiger Slam’.
He holds a lifetime exemption to both events as a former winner and can also compete at The Open until he is 60, having lifted the Claret Jug three times, although currently doesn’t hold automatic qualification into the US Open.
Woods has missed the past three editions of the US Open but will want to feature in this year’s contest at Pinehurst from June 13-16, although his five-year exemption for winning The Masters in 2019 has now ended and could leave him relying on a special exemption from the USGA to play.
“I do not know,” Woods admitted on his US Open status. “I don’t know what’s happened or what Jack [Nicklaus], what happened over his career, or Tom [Watson] or anybody else.
“As of right now, no, I’m not in. Whether or not I have to formally ask them or they invite me, or you give me an exemption or I have to go qualify, you know, who knows. I don’t know what the process is.”
The 2024 PGA Tour season begins with The Sentry from January 4-7, held on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Hawaii and live on Sky Sports Golf. Woods has yet to announce his next competitive start, but has said playing “a tournament a month” is a realistic goal in the year ahead.
Watch the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and all of the majors in 2024 exclusively live on Sky Sports. Stream the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – just £21 a month for six months.
Source : Sky Sports