For the first time since withdrawing from the Masters 10 months ago, Tiger Woods will play in an official golf tournament this week at the Genesis Invitational. It was always the assumed return point for Woods, who is tournament host of the event that benefits his foundation.
He also telegraphed it in December at the Hero World Challenge, where he said his right ankle was feeling good enough that he felt confident in a one-a-month schedule.
Called a subtalar fusion, Woods had angle surgery follow the Masters that kept him for the summer. But when he returned, he walked far better than he had at any time since coming back from a February 2021 car crash that severely injured his lower right leg, ankle and foot. He finished 18th at the Hero and then played the PNC Championship with his son Charlie two weeks later.
He reported that the surgery was inevitable at some point, that it was "just bone on bone" but the ankle is no longer giving him the same trouble.
"I think the best scenario would be maybe a tournament a month," Woods said at the Hero. “I think that's realistic whether that's—you would have to start with maybe at Genesis and something in March, near the Players (Championship). Again, we have set up right now the biggest events are one per month. It sets itself up for that. Now, I need to get myself ready for all that. I think this week is a big step in that direction."
Woods played at Riviera last year and finished tied for 45th before withdrawing from the Masters, where he made the cut for the 23rd consecutive time.
This week presents some of the usual issues confronting Woods. The weather will not be warm. In fact, in the mornings it will likely be in the 40s, which is never good for his back and certainly not his right leg. Woods will likely play an early-morning pro-am round on Wednesday, his usual routine, and then face another early start on Thursday or Friday.
At the Hero—and again at the PNC exhibition with his son Charlie—Woods showed plenty of the old magic. He wasn’t lacking for length off the tee, his iron game was solid if not totally sharp, and there was obvious rust. That’s the problem: Woods is now returning six weeks into the season, playing a top field and against players who’ve been practicing and playing all year. How much has he practiced in the past month? These are questions for which we will soon get answers.