If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Tiger Woods, it’s that you can never bet against the golfer. No matter what the setback or challenge, Woods has a way of defying all expectation and proving his doubters wrong. It’s partly this that has made his career such an illustrious one and so thrilling to watch. Regardless of the outside noise, Woods has the steely-eyed determination and focus that allows him to concentrate simply on the task at hand: this shot. It’s not about winning, it’s simply about the shot and what he needs to do to sink it.
But if Woods is to forge a comeback now, he’s got a lot of work to do. It was just in February of 2021 that news headlines broke of a life-threatening car crash that the golfer was involved in. Reports revealed that he had lost control of his SUV while doing double the speed limit on a stretch of mountain road outside Los Angeles. Most assumed that this was the end of Woods as we had known him on the golfing circuit, that it would spell the end of his career and days out on the green. Even Woods himself had his doubts, as during the time of injury it was 50-50 whether he would have to have his leg amputated. As he revealed: “I never left my hospital bed even to see my living room for three months.”
What followed were months of hospital visits, surgeries as they bolted together his leg with “rods and plates and screws,” and time spent in a wheelchair, then crutches. For Woods, the idea of coming back to golf seemed so far removed from reality. And yet a year on and at 46-years-old, Woods is once again looking to break the record set by Jack Nicklaus by becoming the oldest man to win the Masters. “To say then that I was going to be here playing, and talking to you, it would have been very unlikely,” said Woods at a press conference.
Winning will be a significant challenge for Woods, who still doesn’t have much mobility and doesn’t expect to ever again. Every day, the star athlete is in pain and yet he never loses sight of just how far he’s come. “It’s a matter of what my body’s able to do the next day, and the recovery. That’s the hard part.”
Woods added, “It gets agonising because simple things that I would normally just do now take a couple of hours here and a couple of hours there to prep and then wind down.” With something like the Masters, Woods will also need to endure the physical toll that’s being on the course for four days in a row, as he admits it’s “up to me to endure all the pain” while his medical team work on the rehab and recovery for the next day.
Even so, Woods is hopeful. “I feel like I can still do it and I feel like I still have the hands to do it; the body’s moving good enough.” And when Woods believes he can do something, we know better than to question him. After all, this is a man who won the 2008 US Open while carrying two stress fractures and a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and later won the 2019 Masters just two years after undergoing a spinal fusion surgery.
“I’ve been in worse situations and played and won tournaments. Now I haven’t been in situations like this where I’ve had to endure what I’m going to try and endure, that’s a different challenge. But my back surgeries and all the stuff I’ve had to play through before, those are all things I can draw upon where I was successful.”