Eye of the Tiger: Tiger Woods Returns to Competitive Golf

Aiden Konold ’26

Staff Writer

Tiger Woods Photo credits to Getty Images.

The Genesis Invitational golf tournament this past weekend marked Tiger Woods’ most competitive PGA Tour performance since his devastating car crash nearly two years ago. The accident occurred just two days after the 2021 iteration of the Genesis, leading to fractures in Woods’ right leg’s tibia and fibula and several other injuries to his right foot and ankle. Woods underwent several surgeries, including the insertion of a rod into his right leg’s tibia in an effort to stabilize the fractures, and there was even the possibility that Woods might have to amputate his right leg. Fortunately, the procedures performed on Woods preserved his right leg, though he continues to endure enormous pain. 

Following the crash, Woods persevered through grueling physical therapy which he described as “more painful than anything I have ever experienced,” Slowly but surely, he worked on his golf game to return to playing professionally again. Woods’ return to golf was ignited by an appearance with his twelve year old son Charlie in the PNC Championship in December of 2021, an annual father/son challenge, in which the pair finished second. Tiger, however, rode in a cart for much of the father/son event, the nature of which was like a pet cat in comparison to the lion Woods would have to face in playing in a PGA Tour event, where he would be required to walk for eighteen holes four straight rounds, two if he missed the cut. Woods still grimaced after shots hit during the PNC, despite riding in a cart, visibly displaying the pain he was working through. After the tournament concluded, Woods lamented that he still had a long way to go in order to compete at the PGA Tour level.

Woods was aware of the disparity between the PNC and playing on Tour, putting in significant work in an effort to finally make a comeback to PGA Tour play. Woods finally surmounted this feat in the spring of 2022, returning in time for the 2022 Masters, a major which Woods has won 5 times, and to which he has a lifetime exemption as a former champion. Despite making the cut, Woods’ game was certainly not at the level it had been before the crash, going on to shoot 13 over par over 72 holes. Making the cut, though, was an enormous step for Woods, who close to a year earlier had been faced with the possibility of amputating his right leg. Tiger, at times his harshest critic, still managed to take a positive from his play at the Masters, saying, “To end up here and to be able to play all four rounds, even a month ago I didn’t know if I could pull this off. So, I think it was a positive.” Woods also recognized that he had a lot of work to do to prepare for future tournaments, work he was looking forward to. 

Since the 2022 Masters, the journey for Woods has been agonizing, as he withdrew from the PGA Championship and missed the cut at the Open Championship. Coming off a disappointing 2022, the expectations for Woods heading into this past weekend’s Genesis Invitational were low, though Woods certainly displayed flashes of brilliance, outdriving current PGA stars such as Justin Thomas and sinking long putts, revving up the already delirious crowd. Woods finished the first day of play on Thursday with three straight birdies to finish the day with a 69, 2 strokes under par, sending the crowd into delirium and heading into the clubhouse with momentum. Woods, though, gained those strokes and more on Friday when he bogeyed three of the final four holes to shoot 74, though fortunately enough the cut line held at 1 over par, a number Woods hit. On Saturday, it was redemption time for Woods, who went on to shoot a 4 under par round of 67, putting him at 3 under par for the tournament, still twelve strokes off the lead, but a significant display from Woods who hadn’t played a full weekend of competitive golf in nearly a year. His score on Saturday represented his best performance score wise since his 2021 crash. Of Saturday’s performance, Woods simply said, “That’s the best I’ve played.” 

On Sunday, Woods reached 4 under par after birdieing the first hole, though he came crashing back to reality, shooting a 2 over par 73 on the day, taking him to 1 under par and a tie for 45th on the weekend, as the fatigue finally set in, visible through Woods’ profuse sweating and worsened putting and driving numbers. This performance as a whole provided glimpses of Tiger’s greatness to golf fans, though as he grows older and more prone to injury, especially as the result of his crash, this may be one of the last times we see Woods put on such a display. Woods has said after recovering from the crash that his yearly PGA Tour schedule will be very limited, including the four majors and “a couple more.” The Genesis Invitational is one of the few mountains Woods has yet to climb, and golf fans are all the more better for his hunger to finally win this tournament. In response to questions as to whether he’ll be back and in contention to win this tournament for the first time, Woods said, “Maybe next year.” Those three words are emblematic of the constant hunger Woods has to be the absolute best at what he does, despite the physical restrictions he may have, and we can only hope as golf fans that this past weekend is a sign of things to come from Woods.

Categories: Sports

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