Following over two years of injury frustration and personal troubles which made the former world number one an absent figure from the sport, Woods returned to competitive action at November’s Hero World Challenge.
Having finished in a tie for ninth place, Woods had at one point been in the lead in the second round. The former dominant champion reflected on a year of ups and downs on his website, referencing his surprise at how well things were going in the Bahamas:
“The biggest surprise for me was finding out that I had the lead after 27 holes,” Woods wrote, claiming that he took a week off to recover following the event. “I knew I was close after I eagled the ninth. It was nice to have played well enough to do that after being gone so long.”
Woods has kept fans up to date throughout 2017 with updates on his recovery following an unfortunate series of injuries related to back trouble. Indicating that his return in 2018 should coincide with a significant level of activity, the 42-year-old is under no illusions that his progress will not be rushed:
“I feel I’ve taken it to another level,” Woods wrote. “I’ve started practicing again and was out with Justin the other day and had a good time. I’m continuing to progress and trying to get strong enough to where I can handle a workload again. I would love to play a full schedule in 2018. What that entails, including back-to-back events, I don’t know. I just have to continue to work on my body and game and see where I pan out. I wish I knew where I was going to play and when I was going to play – it’s a lot easier to prep for that – but we really don’t know. This is all unchartered territory.”
While golf is considered by many a sport with a low risk of injury, intensive practice and a busy schedule of competition can have considerable tolls on the body. Add the day-to-day pressures of life and that can be compounded. For golfers who also sustain college studies in between competition, such as Utah Valley Student and junior golfer Blair Bursey, maintaining such as packed schedule requires a deeper understanding of recovery and measures to protect one’s self from potential injury.
Woods, who played his first PGA Tour event nearly 26 years ago, aims to return to the course where it all started. A Stanford University student, Woods dropped out in his sophomore year to pursue a career in professional golf, and sees sentimental value in returning there in 2018:
“One way or another, I will be at Riviera Country Club in February for the Genesis Open,” Woods wrote. “It’s such an historic site and the course will always have special meaning for me. That’s where it all started back in 1992 when I played in my first PGA Tour event at age 16. My foundation now runs the tournament and it will be great to return to my old stomping grounds. I greatly appreciate Genesis’s support of the event and the TWF.”