JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Tiger Woods said Wednesday he doesn’t know when he’ll play competitive golf again.
Or if he ever will play again.
“I don’t know what my future holds for me,” Woods said at Liberty National Golf Club, where he is one of USA captain Steve Stricker's assistants for the Presidents Cup that begins Thursday.
Woods, 41, had fusion surgery on his back on April 19 – his fourth procedure to his back since April of 2014. The 14-time major champion and winner of 79 PGA Tour titles has not played since he withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic on Feb. 3 after an opening-round 73. He recently began chipping and putting in his back yard in Florida and has progressed to hitting 60-yard shots.
While he said he feels fine, Woods answered in the affirmative when asked if he could see himself not ever playing again. But he remains optimistic that he will return to the PGA Tour.
“My timetable is based on what my surgeon says,” Woods said. “I'm still training. I'm getting stronger. But I certainly don't have my golf muscles trained because obviously I'm not doing anything golf related.
“Overall I'm very optimistic how I'm progressing. Like I said, the pain's gone, but I don't know what my golfing body is going to be like, because I haven't hit a golf shot yet. So that's going to take time to figure that out and figure out what my capabilities are going forward, and there's no rush.”
For now, Woods’ immediate future is the Presidents Cup. While he won’t hit one shot this week, he said he’ll have a blast.
“It's the pure enjoyment about, one, the competition, but also being with the guys that's a different role, not a player,” he said. “I'm trying to help the other assistants, the other players, and obviously our captain. And it's been a lot of fun. I had a great time last year (at the Ryder Cup) and having a blast this year. This is a great group of guys.”
Jim Furyk, another assistant to Stricker, said he’s glad Woods is here.
“The younger players on both sides, they grew up, he was our dominant player, the face of the PGA Tour and they grew up idolizing him,” Furyk said. “Having him here in the team room and here with those guys is invaluable. It's a two-way street. It's great for Tiger. As much as he's been injured, it's probably wonderful for him to be out here among the camaraderie and provides just so much experience and knowledge.”
Woods was also asked for his thoughts on players taking a knee in protest during the national anthem at NFL games.
“Obviously there's a lot of unrest right now, whether it's political or racial, in this country right now,” he said. “And that's something that obviously has happened before in the past, and it's happening right now in America. So hopefully things can be healed. That we can progress as a nation and come together, not just only the near future, but for perpetuity.”
Steve DiMeglio, USA Today