Justin Thomas has finally given the golfing world what we have all been waiting eagerly for – an update on Tiger Woods and whether or not we may see him grace the golf course again.
Woods suffered severe leg and foot injuries on Feb. 23rd when he was involved in a single-car crash near Rolling Hills Estate, 30 miles southwest of Los Angeles. The injuries to his right leg required multiple surgeries and weeks of hospitalisation. One of the major surgeries involved a rod being placed in his right leg. Woods posted updates at the time on his Twitter and Instagram accounts indicating his surgery had been a success and a later update in April on Instagram – a picture of him on crutches with his dog.
45-year-old Woods has been quiet in public and on social media other than those few updates. He was finally spotted just over a month ago watching his 12-year old son Charlie compete at an event. Woods has long made a point of watching Charlie, who has been active in the sport of golf, play in as many tournaments as he can. However, the event Charlie competed in four weeks ago was the first time we have seen Tiger out in public since the accident. He was with his partner Erica and had on his golf gear and had a sleeve on his right leg.
Despite him staying very much out of the public eye, ESPN’s Bob Harig recently claimed Woods was instrumental behind the scenes during the America team victorious Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.
The photos of Woods without crutches and standing unaided at Charlie’s junior tournament provided real hope to all Tiger’s fans that he is finally returning to some degree of normality. This week, those thoughts were echoed by his close friend and PGA Tour player Justin Thomas who confirmed he visits Tiger regularly at his South Florida home.
Thomas and Woods have become close friends over the years. They partnered at the 2019 President’s Cup and, before the accident, played many practise rounds together. Thomas struggled to fight back the tears at a news conference at Concession following Woods’ crash back in February.
Thomas couldn’t confirm what the future looks like for Tiger on the fairways and greens, but he was happy to speculate. After confirming he visits Tiger at home once or twice a week, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that Thomas’s thoughts and predictions will be based, even loosely, on conversations the pair have had.
“I don’t know. I mean, I know that he’s going to try,” Thomas said on the ‘No Laying Up’ podcast this week. “I don’t see him ever playing if he can’t play well. He doesn’t strike me as a guy who’s played at home, and he’s shooting a bunch of 75s and 76s, and he’s like, ‘OK, I’m gonna give Augusta a try this year.’ That’s not really gonna be him, at least from my understanding, what I know of him.”
Thomas went on to discuss the last time Woods returned to competitive golf following a serious injury. The 15-time major winner returned to win the 2019 Masters after successfully recovering from spinal fusion surgery in April 2017. The victory was Tiger’s fifth green jacket and his 15th major in total. The Masters’ win was one of four victories Tiger had following his return to the Tour in 2018. The ZOZO Championship victory in 2019 following on from The Masters’ success was a significant one, a record-equalling 82nd PGA Tour victory.
“He knows that there’s a pretty good chance that that was the last chance he really ever had, before that, of making another run,” Thomas said, “but at the same time, I know how determined he is, and I know he’s going to want to at least try to give something again.
“Obviously, I hope he does. But at the same time, as I said after the accident, as long as he can be a dad and be normal with that again, that’s the No. 1 priority, and the rest of this is a bonus.
“He’s still his sarcastic-ass self, so nothing has changed there, so I’m glad to see that he’s still chipper as always.”
Thomas said Woods is doing remarkably well, “all things considered.”
“I mean, it’s Groundhog Day; every day’s the exact same thing for him. But at least he’s able to be a dad somewhat again, which is most important.”
It will be interesting to see if Woods appears at the Hero World Challenge at the end of November in the Bahamas, a tournament he hosts. It is unclear if he will be there this year, but he was in 2015 despite recovering from a relatively serious back injury at the time.
If he does appear there in a few weeks, it will mark his first official public appearance since the accident.