Tiger Optimistic for Success in 2018
SOMETHING strange has happened to Tiger Woods. One of the world’s most private individuals, a sportsman who has never before shared his innermost thoughts with the world, suddenly cannot stop talking.
And what a refreshing change it makes. Perhaps buoyed by his performance at the Hero World Challenge, Woods has shared his hopes for 2018 as he turns 42 – and he tells us that he is hoping to achieve something special in the weeks and months that lie ahead. A promising return to action in the Bahamas indicated that the 14-time major champion just might be ready to become a title contender once more.
This may seem like a bold statement in regard to a golfer who had started just three events since August 2015 before launching his latest comeback after spinal fusion surgery. And after four back operations in three years, Woods is guarded about how his body will hold up to week-to-week golf on the PGA Tour.
But he is clearly optimistic about what now lies ahead. “It’s been a year filled with ups and downs, but I am very optimistic about 2018 and looking forward to great things on and off the golf course,” he wrote on his website. “I was very encouraged by my performance at the Hero World Challenge, and hope it was the start of something big. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect after being away from competitive golf for 10 months and came away excited about my health and my game.”
Woods even led the tournament midway through the second round before a 75 the next day ended his trophy challenge. He swung the club beautifully and struck the ball really well. Additionally, he proved that his putting stroke remains as solid as it ever was, although there are still concerns when he has a wedge in his hands close to the putting surface.
“I can’t express in words how great it felt to be back in the arena and how much I missed it,” he said. Woods has yet to announce his playing schedule for 2018 and has admitted that he knows he will have to find a way to manage his battered body.
“I’m continuing to progress and trying to get strong enough to where I can handle a workload again,” Woods said. “I would love to play a full schedule in 2018. What that entails, including back-to-back events, I don’t know. I just have to continue to work on my body and game and see where I pan out. I wish I knew where I was going to play and when I was going to play - it’s a lot easier to prep for that - but we really don’t know.”
He parted company with swing coach Chris Como shortly before Christmas and recognises his action has changed due to the toll golf has taken on his body, but Woods “was surprised at how explosive” his game was in the Bahamas. As were we all.
He said that there had been times when he had struggled to get out of bed in the morning and recalled the days when it hurt to put one foot in front of the other. "Well, I've come out the other side," he said when asked about managing his back pain. "I feel fantastic, and a lot of friends have helped me. I didn't realise how bad my back was," he said. "Now that I'm feeling the way that I'm feeling, its hard to imagine that I was living the way I was living: with my foot not working, my leg not working, and the hours of not sleeping because of the pain.”
It all means that he has a new perspective on life and on the game that has brought him untold riches. “I appreciate competitive golf now more than I ever have,” he concluded.
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