Tiger Woods says he has been encouraged by his performance in two December events, the first competitive golf for the 15-time Major winner since April ankle surgery.
Woods, who turns 48 later this month, had not played since The Masters eight months ago before placing 18th of 20 in the Hero World Challenge two weeks ago.
“A lot of things are aching a lot more than my ankle, which is the way it goes,” Woods said. “I’ll be able to walk and play. We’ve been working out hard, been able to recover.”
On Sunday, he and 14-year-old son Charlie Woods combined to shoot 61 and grab a share of fifth at the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida.
They finished on 19-under 125 in the parent-child pairs event to stand six strokes adrift of German winner Bernhard Langer and his son Jason.
Woods had struggled to walk four rounds after severe leg injuries suffered in a 2021 car crash but has said he plans to compete once a month next year thanks to a strong fitness recovery.
“We’ve been training every day, which is great,” Woods said. “It has been nice to knock off a lot of the rust and some of the doubt 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, hit shots with consequence, it has been nice.”
Woods says his surgically repaired right ankle, which once had him limping through rounds at majors, is no longer such an issue.
“The ankle was fine because it’s now fused but other parts were definitely aching,” Woods said. “The fact we were able to train right away and get after it, and start hitting balls, it was encouraging.”
Woods is not exempt for next year’s US Open, but the three-time US Open champion would likely receive an exemption.
“As of right now, no, I’m not in,” Woods said. “Whether or not I have to formally ask them or they invite me or give me an exemption or I have to go qualify, who knows? I don’t know what the process is.”
Woods said his comeback events have boosted his confidence that he can still strike the golf ball competitively with the world’s best.
“If I’m able to practice and do the things I know I can do, and prepare, I know I can still do it,” 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.”
© Agence France-Presse
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