Tiger Woods has revealed he will never regain full mobility due to the horrific injuries he suffered in a car accident 15 months ago as he prepares to return to action at the US PGA Championship.
In the immediate aftermath of his tie for 50th at Augusta – his first competitive event in 17 months – Woods all but wrote off the chances of him reappearing in this seasons’ second major at Southern Hills, the scene of his 2007 US PGA victory.
But after arriving in Tulsa on Sunday to begin practicing for this week’s PGA Championship, Woods said that he is continuing to show improvements physically and that his condition is still moving in the right direction.
However, his optimistic view was issued with the caveat of his admission that he will never get back to the physique he had before his accident last year.
“It’s only [his right leg] going to keep getting stronger,” Woods said. “The more I use it, the more strength it gains. Am I ever going to have full mobility? No. Never again. But I’ll be able to get stronger. It’s going to be ache, but that’s the way it’s going to be.
“I’m excited about this week. I’m not going to play that much going forward so anytime I do play, it’s going to be fun to play and to compete. There are only so many money games you can play at home.”
Woods recalled how “awful” his body felt the day after last month’s Masters where he remarkably made the cut a year after he almost lost his right leg, and how he battled even to defy himself to be fit to play in this week’s US PGA.
And when the adrenaline had left him and he awoke the next morning he was even more convinced he would need more time before he could go again.
“That Monday was awful; I did nothing,” Woods told Golfweek after completing his first practice round in Tulsa. “But Tuesday was leg day. So we went right back after it. Everything is better. I’ve gotten a lot stronger since the Masters.”
Those comments will thrill his many fans, most notably those in Oklahoma where there is a growing conviction that Woods, 46, can challenge for his 16th major win.
Woods’s confidence will, of course, be contagious at Southern Hills. It was there 15 years ago when he won the most recent of his four Wanamaker Trophies and at that stage, in the run of six major wins out of 14 entries, he seemed unstoppable. It is a different Woods now, but he remains able to command the spotlight like nobody before.
“Other than the fact that he won here in 2007, I think it’s the stamina and endurance thing that excites him the most,” Joey La Cava, his caddy said.
“One hundred per cent I see him stronger. I just think the endurance is there now. I don’t think he’s getting quite as tired as quickly.”