It’s pretty clear Tiger Woods still IS the needle when it comes to golf media, but he even took over Twitter last week, posting just a three second video of himself “making progress.” I was probably responsible for about 100 of the now 7.5 Million Views it has racked up already, but pretty impressive for just a 3-second video.
Well today, after making brief comments yesterday, Tiger took part in his first real Q&A with the media since sustaining multiple injuries in a nearly-tragic car crash on February 23rd in California. The video is about 40 minutes so I took the liberty of taking out the best parts and transcribing them right here. First though I must say it was nice seeing Tiger’s demeanor be so at peace, and to see him genuinely smiling and enjoying being out in the public eye once again.
ON THE CRASH
Q: What do you remember of the accident?
A: All of those questions were answered in the police report.
Q: After the crash I assume you saw the pictures and whatnot of how bad the accident was. Did you feel lucky to be alive? And is that part of why you seem at peace talking with us here today about going forwards?
A: Yeah, I feel I’m lucky to be alive, but also (that I) still had the limb. Those are two crucial things. I’m very grateful that someone upstairs was taking care of me. That I’m able to not only be here, but also to walk without a prosthesis.
Q: How realistic was amputation as an option?
A: It was on the table.
Q: When it comes to the day of the crash, clearly that’s something that you’re hoping to keep private. Is that something you feel like is sort of your business and not the rest of ours, for lack of a better phrase?
A: Welllll I’ve kind of felt that way most of my life. But it doesn’t really work out that way. I understand that its, um, I had friends that insulated me from a lot of the things that were said outside. I didn’t have my phone and I did have access to TV, but I was just watching sports. But I refused to turn on the local channels and news and stuff like that, I refused to go down that road. I wasn’t mentally ready for that road yet. A lot of things in my body hurt at that time and whether I was on medication or not it still hurt. And just trying to imagine me coming off of that stuff, how much it was going to hurt. I didn’t want to have my mind go there yet; I wasn’t ready. So yeah, people are going to poke and prod and want to know more about my business, I understand that. They can poke and prod at me all they want, just stay away from my family.
ON THE RECOVERY
Q: How difficult has this recovery been compared to others in the past?
A: This one has been much more difficult. The knee stuff was one level, the back was another level, and this with the right leg, its hard to describe how difficult this has been. Just to be immobile for three months just laying there and looking forward to getting outside, that was a goal of mine. Especially for a person who has lived his entire life outside, that was a goal. I finally got to that point, transitioned from a wheelchair to crutches and finally, now, nothing. It’s been a lot of hard work. I’m very thankful to the surgeons and the nurses, the unsung heroes of all of it; all my friends and family. There were some tough times in there and the pain got pretty great at times, but they helped me get through it, and I’m on the better side of it but I still have a long way to go.
ON RETURNING TO GOLF
Q: Is it too early to have a target tournament?
A: As far as playing at the Tour level, I don’t know when that’s going to happen. I’ll play a round here or there, a little hit and giggle, I can do something like that. I sort of like playing from, you know how the USGA suggests “play it forward”, I really like that idea now. I don’t like the tees back, I like them forward. Let’s move it up, move it up. Yeah, to see some of my shots fall out of the sky a lot shorter than I’m used to is a little eye opening but at least I’m able to do it again, which is something that for a little while it didn’t look like I was going to. But I’m able to participate in the sport of golf. Now to what level, I don’t know that, but I’ll keep all of you abreast as my progress continues to go on. Whether I’ll be out there and at what level and when.
Q: The Open Championship returns to St. Andrews next year. How much would that be an event you would like to be ready for?
A: Yeah, I would love, I’d love to play at St Andrews. There’s no doubt about it, its my favourite course in the world. And to be a two-time champion there, even just being a part of the champions dinner is really neat…. Those are things, like at The Masters, those are priceless. And those stories and listening to them talk about how and when they played and what they did is just an honor, so, yes, I would love to play that Open Championship, there’s no doubt about it. Physically, I got to get it there and hopefully I can. But I’ve got to get there first, okay? The tournaments not going to go anywhere, but I’ve got to get there.
Q: Best case scenario, how determined are you to win again?
A: Well, I have to be good enough again first, I have to prove to myself I’m good enough in practice. I’ll chip and putt any of these guys, but the golf courses are longer than just a chip and putt course, we’re not going to be playing the par three course at Augusta to win The Masters. I have to get a little bit bigger game than that. So, as I said, I’ve got a long way to go in the rehab process to be able to do something like that.
Q: Did you just commit to the par-three?
A: No, I just said I can play courses of that length. If the Tour wants to not make courses longer and have them shorter and tighten them up and make them harder, that’s fine by me. I have no problem with that. If they want to go back to wooden shafts and feathery balls, okay, I’m cool.
Q: Is it hard for you to accept that your career is going this way because of injury, not age?
A: It’s very easy given that I was able to come back after the fusion surgery and do what I did, I won that last major. And I ticked off two more events along the way, so, I don’t foresee this leg ever being what it used to be. I’ll never have the back I used to. I’m getting older, so all that combined means that a full schedule and full practice schedule and all it would take to do that, no, I don’t have any desire to do that. But to ramp up a few times a year, for a few events a year as I alluded to yesterday like mister Hogan did; he did a pretty good job of it and there’s no reason I can’t do that and feel ready. I may not be tournament sharp in the sense of having played tournaments, but I think if you practice correctly and do it correctly, then I’ve come off surgeries before. I’ve come off long layoffs and I’ve won or come close to winning before. So, I know the recipe for it, I’ve just got to get to a point where I feel comfortable enough where I can do that again.
Q: Are you in any pain sitting there?
A: Yep… my back hurts and my leg hurts
Q: You turn 46 at the end of December, do you still enjoy that and what’s it been like this last year?
A: Four more years and I’m in a cart. No, this year is a year I’d like to turn the page on. it’s been full of some tough memories and some tough times but also some great times as well, but again it will be nice to turn the page
Q: Was there ever a point where you wondered if this was all worth it? If you wanted to put yourself and your family through this again?
A: You made a great point, am I going to put my family through it again? Am I going to put myself out there again? We had a talk within the family, all of us sat down and I said, if this leg cooperates and I get to a point where I can play the Tour, is it okay with you guys if I try and do it? And the consensus was yes. Now, internally I haven’t reached that point, I haven’t proven it to myself that I can do it. We’re talking about going out there against the worlds best on the most difficult golf courses under the most difficult conditions. I’m still far from that. I have a long way to go to get to that point. Now, I haven’t decided whether I want to get to that point. I’ve got to get my leg to a point where that decision can be made. We’ll see what happens when I get to that point, but I’ve got a long way to go with this leg
This week Tiger is hosting his annual offseason event, The Hero World Challenge. For more from Teeing Off on that, click HERE