After Repeated Embarrassments, Stubborn Tiger Woods Admits Nagging 6-Word Fear Behind ‘Major’ Strategy

Tiger Woods is in a unique dilemma. To play more or not to—that’s the question the 15-time major champion hasn’t found an answer to. Not yet. The 48-year-old wished to play once a month this year. But that has effectively been only one major month. The risk, Woods explains, is that without enough competitive golf, his performances at the major are falling below his own expectations. But the former world no. 1 also has to consider how his body will react to more pressure.

Tiger Woods opened with a 4-over at Pinehurst No. 2. Speaking to the media after the round, the three-time U.S. Open champion elaborated, “I’m physically getting better as the year has gone on. I just haven’t been able to play as much because I just don’t want to hurt myself pre, then I won’t be able to play in the major championships.”

Woods earlier admitted his body doesn’t move the way he wants it to. Meaning, now that his ankle is fused, it forces him to take a different posture while swinging—mostly off the tee—and pushes the pain down to his back. At the Genesis Invitational, his first tournament after the surgery, Woods’s back ‘locked up’ resulting in a shank in the first round.

Moreover, a few months ago, when asked where it hurt the most, Woods joked, ‘Everywhere’. At the Masters, the former world no.1 said, “I hurt every day … I ache every day. As far as my physicality on certain shots, every shot that’s not on a tee box is a challenge.” While Woods feels he is in a better spot than he was at the Genesis, it hasn’t reached a point where the veteran can comfortably sandwich another tournament between two majors.

USA Today via Reuters

The recovery time after a tournament compels the 82-time PGA Tour winner to take more time off than he would have preferred. Woods added, “It’s pick your poison, right? Play a lot with the potential of not playing, or not playing and fight being not as sharp.” Woods’s comments temper the optimism he showed before the tournament. The veteran affirmed that he is in a physical condition to not just compete but win. Tiger Woods refused to back down, despite physical setbacks

Woods is playing at the 124th U.S. Open on a special exemption. His eligibility that came with the 2019 Masters triumph ran out last year. And, at Pinehurst, the 48-year-old reiterated what he said during the Masters.

That he can still do it—add one more to his major tally, which is three short of Jack Nicklaus. The 82-time PGA Tour winner said, “I feel like I have the strength to be able to do it. It’s just a matter of doing it.”

The 48-year-old missed the cut at the PGA Championship and finished 60th at the Masters, the last among those to make the cut. In his last U.S. Open appearance, Woods missed the cut, shooting 10-over 150. It remains to be seen if the 48-year-old can change that at Pinehurst No. 2.

Woods’s opening round included six bogeys. Of course, getting a square instead of a circle doesn’t hurt too much at Pinehurst No. 2. But it’s taking a bogey when he could’ve saved par that will cost in the long run.

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