Tiger Woods’ performance at Hero World Challenge Pro-Am telling in more ways than one

Tiger Woods’ performance at Hero World Challenge Pro-Am telling in more ways than one

Ahead of this week’s Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods played just nine holes during Wednesday’s Pro-Am.

Usually, these events are 18 holes, but the 15-time major champion decided to stay fresh for the rest of the week and stopped at the turn because, as the event host, he can.

Woods looked strong, per Sports Illustrated reporter Bob Harig, who watched him play in the Pro-Am.

He unofficially finished at even par, making two birdies and two pars. The swing videos that came from the Pro-Am showed Woods looked strong.

Woods looks like his swing is there. It’s more about whether his body can keep up. Ahead of the event, he spoke to the media and once again mentioned he was pain-free in his ankle since having subtalar fusion surgery.

“That’s all gone,” Woods said in his press conference on Tuesday. “The other parts of my body, my knee hurts, my back. The forces go somewhere else. Just like when I had my back fused, the forces have to go somewhere. So it’s up the chain.”

“Other parts are taking the brunt of the load, so I’m a little more sore in other areas, but the ankle’s good. So that surgery was a success.”

Fans have seen him walk some this fall, carrying the bag for his son Charlie with little to no limp. However, on Wednesday, there were signs of an uneven gate during the Pro-Am, but it was not like it was back in April.

While Woods outlined a 2024 schedule and said he was pain-free, only playing nine holes on Wednesday could indicate he is far from his usual self. But what should fans expect from him?

“My game feels rusty. I haven’t played in a while,” Woods said. “I’m excited to compete and play, and I’m just as curious as all of you are to see what happens because I haven’t done it in a while.”

It has been over seven months since he played in a PGA Tour event, so being smart about his movement might be the right call.

He has only played in five events since returning at the 2022 Masters. That event was a little over a year following that horrific 2021 car crash. Woods made the cut twice at Augusta National, the 2022 PGA Championship and last year’s Genesis Invitational.

The five-time green jacket owner also withdrew twice in those last five starts, including the 2023 Masters. Shortly after that, he had the aforementioned surgery on his ankle. This week marks his first return to professional golf since that procedure.

Woods very well might just be making a wise decision knowing this isn’t the only event he will play in December.

He and Charlie will tee it up in the PNC Championship in two weeks. That tournament allows golf carts, so if this week causes more strain than he expects, that can be an option for him.

Woods will tee off with Justin Thomas on Thursday at 11:52 a.m. ET for the first round of the event.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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