In an exclusive interview with Golf Digest, Tiger Woods has detailed his rehabilitation journey following the traumatic injuries suffered in a car crash back in February.
Woods suffered serious injuries when he crashed his car, and underwent a series of operations after suffering compound fractures to his right leg. The 15-time major champion has retreated from the public eye, with the 45-year-old working on a tailored rehabilitation programme.
In an interview with Golf Digest, an upbeat Woods says, despite some tough days and hard weeks - including the prospect of amputation at one point - he has made some really positive strides in his rehabilitation, but that he cannot envisage returning to the PGA Tour full time.
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“I'm doing great,” began Woods
“It’s been a hell of a road. It has been a long one and a sore one. I have made some really positive strides. I have had some tough days and some hard weeks and some setbacks here and there. But, overall, everything's progressing nicely.
“It is just not at my timetable and not at the speed I would like to heal at. I'm not Wolverine, even though sometimes I think I am.
It's one of those things where I just wish I could do everything that I used to, but I'm not quite there yet.
Woods added that he did not expect to return to the PGA Tour in a full-time capacity but added that that was okay, having already climbed Mount Everest once.
“I don't have to compete and play against the best players in the world to have a great life,” he said with a sense of perspective.
“After my back fusion, I had to prove it to myself - I had to climb Mount Everest one more time. I had to do it, and I did it. This time around, I don't think I'll have the body to climb Mount Everest, and that's OK.
But I can participate in the game of golf. I can still - maybe if my leg gets good enough - maybe kick off a tournament here or there. But as far as climbing the mountain [and] getting all the way to the top, I don't think that's a realistic expectation of me.
“But I think something that is realistic is playing the Tour one day, but never full-time ever again. Yeah, pick and choose just like what Mr. [Ben] Hogan did. You pick and choose a few events a year, and you play around that and you practice around that, and try to gear yourself up for that and you play it.
“I think that's kind of how I'm going to have to play it from now on. It is an unfortunate reality, but it's my reality. And I understand it and I accept it."
The 15-time major winner says he leaned on the mentality he learned from his father to grind through the tougher days of rehabilitation.
“This is where dad’s teaching came into play being in the military and being SF [special forces]," began Woods.
"Any SF operator can attest to this—you don’t know how long a firefight is going to take. It could last five seconds or five hours and some could go on for days at a time. With that in mind, you don’t know when the end is so that’s the hard part. How do you get through that? One of my dad’s ways of getting through that was to live meal-to-meal ... I just shortened up the windows of 'oh this is gonna be nine months of hell', to It’s just two or three hours.
"If I can repeat these two to three hours at a time. Next thing you know it adds up, it accumulates into weeks, months and to a point where here I am talking to you and walking into a room.”
That progress is all the more impressive when contextualised by a revelation he makes later in the interview.
There's a point in time when I wouldn't say 50-50 - but it was damn near there - whether I was going to walk out of that hospital with one leg.
"Once I [kept it], I wanted to test and see if I still had my hands. So even in the hospital, I would have [girlfriend] Erica [Herman] and [friend] Rob [McNamara] throw me something. Throw me anything.”
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Despite the setbacks, Woods’ obsession with golf drove him on, and he added that he appreciated the support he has received from fellow golfers. That is not to say Woods won’t relish trying to compete with those friends again, but there are certain barriers that must be overcome first.
“I really did miss being a competitor,” he added.
I compete at everything I do. And right now my competition is directed at my leg. Each and every day I'm thinking 'what can I do to get it better?' My mind used to be what can I do to get my game better to kick these guys' butts. That's no longer the case.
“I have to be more micro than macro right now - turning more inward, so that maybe one day I can do that again.”
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