Tiger Woods warns his return to competitive golf remains ‘a long way off’

Tiger Woods has warned onlookers, excited by his reappearance on the golf scene, that a competitive return remains “a long way off”. The likelihood of Woods featuring at the Masters in April, for now, feels remote.

Woods, whose lower right leg was shattered to the point of near-amputation in a car crash in February, will be seen again on a golf course at this weekend’s PNC Championship in Orlando. Woods, with the assistance of a cart, will play alongside his 12-year-old son, Charlie, in the family challenge.

Woods, who has spoken tentatively about playing in majors and on the PGA Tour again, has cautioned that such a scenario is far from imminent.

“It’s going to be a while,” said the 15-times major winner. “I couldn’t walk this golf course even right now and it’s flat. I don’t have the endurance. My leg is not quite right yet and it’s going to take time. I’m a long way from playing tournament golf.

“This is hit, hop in a cart and move about my business. Being able to play tournament golf and being able to recover, practice and train and hit balls after a round and do all of the things that I need to be at a high level? I’m a long way away from that.”

Woods, 46 later this month, has accepted that he cannot hit the ball as far as before the accident in California. “I’m just starting to get back into trying to play again,” he said. “So I don’t quite have the endurance that I would like to have. I’ve still got the hands, I’ve still the feel. Unfortunately sometimes the feel doesn’t really match up with the speed or the shot that I’m seeing, so that’s one of the things that Joe [LaCava, Woods’s caddie] and I were talking about.

“The ball is not quite flying as far as I’d like or I’m used to and so we have to talk about some of the numbers and some of the shots and making some of those small adjustments.”

Woods dismissed the suggestion he could use a buggy to feature in mainstream competition, which would be possible via medical exemption. “Absolutely not,” he said. “Not for a PGA Tour event, no. That’s just not who I am. That’s not how I’ve always been, and if I can’t play at that level, I can’t play at that level. But this is a different event. This is a fun event.”