Fitter, happier Tiger has fresh expectations in 2019
Tiger Woods can’t wait to get the new year rolling at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open, having spent the off-season training and strengthening his body.
Speaking to the media ahead of Thursday’s opening round at Torrey Pines, Woods said it was great to start the year having full confidence that his body will hold up and knowing he can cope with the task ahead.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) 22 January 2019
It was a very different story for the 14-time major champ last year, when he had very little idea how he would fare after spinal fusion surgery.
“Last year was very fluid,” Woods said. “It was like trying to hit a moving target last year and it was quite interesting to try to figure it all out as the year progressed and it evolved.
“This year I have a great understanding of what I can and can’t do. There’s not that uncertainty that I had going into the year last year after what I did at the end of last year.
“Playing seven out of nine weeks was quite a bit. The body held up better than I thought it would, even though I got pretty tired at the end – overall it held up pretty good.”
Woods featured in the Hero World Challenge last month but has not played an official PGA Tour event since September, and there are few better courses for him to make his return than Torrey Pines, where he was won eight times – including his last major victory at the 2008 US Open.
It's a new year for @TigerWoods.
What do you expect from 2019? pic.twitter.com/3YEZ22jH0b
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) 23 January 2019
“It’s great to be back,” he added. “I haven’t played on the Tour since September so it’s been a while and I’m looking forward to getting started, looking forward to getting out there and playing.
“A lot of it [off-season] has been training, trying to get stronger. Last year, towards the end of the season, I got really tired because I didn’t expect to play that much golf at the end and I didn’t train for it.
“This off-season I spent a lot of time in the gym and I’ve gotten a lot stronger and feel like my legs are there where they need to be, which they weren’t at the end of the season.”
Woods also revealed that he plans to take advantage of a new rule that allows players to leave the flag in the hole while putting.
“Some of the putts where the hole is kind of visible as it comes up over a rise … it would be nice to have a reference point so I’ll probably leave it in for those kinds of putts,” he said.
Woods said he had also practiced leaving the flag in when putting downhill.
“It just felt like I could hit it more aggressively, which I did and I started running it eight to nine feet by (the hole).
“It might be more advantageous when we get on faster greens with a little more slope, i.e. Augusta,” he said, referring to the Masters.
“It will give you more security on a three to four footer down the hill. You can just take a cut at it.”
Now that he’s returned to the winner’s circle (at last year’s Tour Championship) and put his injury woes behind him, Woods said he was moved to discover how much his return to form meant to those who had stuck by him through the tough times.
“Players, friends, people who saw what I went through at home, they saw the difficult times,” he said.
“And for them to see that I had made it this far back, that was touching to me because I didn’t really expect that.
“I’m inside the ropes, I knew what it took for me. But I didn’t know it would have affected anyone else.”
Collin Morikawa wins Race to Dubai as Rory McIlroy’s frustrations boil over
The Northern Irishman appeared to rip his shirt open in the recording area behind the 18th green.
Tiger Woods shares footage of him hitting balls as rehab continues
Woods was injured in a car accident in February.
Rory McIlroy takes one-shot lead into final round in Dubai after shooting a 67
England’s Sam Horsfield is just a shot off the lead, one ahead of Scot Robert MacIntyre.
Double bogey on final hole sees Rory McIlroy slip shot off the pace in Dubai
The round one leader is a shot behind Ryder Cup team-mate Shane Lowry, England’s Sam Horsfield and American John Catlin.
I’m on the right path – Rory McIlroy excited about road to next majors challenge
McIlroy is now a combined 148 under par in the £6.6million season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Open champion Collin Morikawa determined to take chances in Race to Dubai bid
Morikawa had the chance to top the Order of Merit by winning last year’s DP World Tour Championship.
Rory McIlroy unlikely to change schedule despite new-look European Tour
The European Tour will be known as the DP World Tour from the 2022 season but Florida-based McIlroy will continue to focus on the PGA Tour.
Punter’s pointers at the DP World Tour Championship: Course and desert specialists to the fore
It’s the final week of the 2021 European Tour season and the best 50 players of the season are convening at Jumeirah’s Earth Course.
JB Hansen wins AVIV Dubai Championship to claim second European Tour title
The Dane finished a shot clear of Italy’s Francesco Laporta and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger.