Tiger Woods admits his days as a full-time pro golfer are over after car crash
In an interview with Golf Digest that was released Monday, Tiger Woods said that while he could see himself playing in occasional PGA Tour events, his career as a full-time PGA Tour golfer is over after the severe leg injuries he suffered in a high-speed car crash last February.
"I think something that is realistic is playing the Tour one day - never full time, ever again - but pick and choose, just like Mr. [Ben] Hogan did. Pick and choose a few events a year and you play around that," Woods said, citing the golf legend who recovered from serious injuries suffered in a 1949 car crash to win six more majors while playing a limited schedule. "You practice around that, and you gear yourself up for that. I think that's how I'm going to have to play it from now on. It's an unfortunate reality, but it's my reality. And I understand it, and I accept it."
The interview was released eight days after Woods tweeted a video of himself taking practice swings on the range, accompanied with a message that read "Making progress." The video fueled speculation that the 15-time major winner would be returning to the tour soon, but Woods told Golf Digest that he has "so far to go. . . . I'm not even at the halfway point."
"I have so much more muscle development and nerve development that I have to do in my leg," he said. "At the same time, as you know, I've had five back operations. So I'm having to deal with that. So as the leg gets stronger, sometimes the back may act up. . . . It's a tough road."
Woods said he has lengthened his putter so he would have to bend over less while on the greens and only recently has returned to full-swing practice, and only on a limited basis.
Woods suffered comminuted open fractures to the tibia and fibula in his right leg during the car crash in Southern California, which means both bones broke into at least three pieces and broke through the skin. He also suffered foot and ankle injuries. At one point, he told Golf Digest, there was concern about whether he would have to have his leg amputated.
"There was a point in time when, I wouldn't say it was 50/50, but it was damn near there if I was going to walk out of that hospital with one leg," he said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said in April that Woods crashed because of excessive speed, though they ruled out impaired driving and declined to charge him with an infraction. Woods was driving between 84 and 87 mph in a 45-mph zone when his Genesis SUV smashed into and hopped over a median, according to investigators who cited evidence recovered from a data recorder. Woods's car was traveling 75 mph when it hit a tree, pirouetted and rolled into a ditch in Rolling Hills Estates, a neighborhood in the posh suburb of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
Woods previously had bounced back from five back surgeries, including spinal-fusion surgery in 2017, and five procedures on his left leg. His last appearance at a pro golf event was his tie for 38th at the Masters in November 2020.
"I don't have to compete and play against the best players in the world to have a great life," he said. "After my back fusion, I had to climb Mount Everest one more time. I had to do it, and I did. This time around, I don't think I'll have the body to climb Mount Everest and that's OK. I can still participate in the game of golf. I can still, if my leg gets OK, I can still click off a tournament here or there. But as far as climbing the mountain again and getting all the way to the top, I don't think that's a realistic expectation of me."