As Tiger Woods turns 46, two old buds offer a glimpse into Woods’ future

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Mark O’Meara was having breakfast with his son, Shaun, earlier this month at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Fla., When the morning conversation was interrupted by an unexpected guest.

“I was sitting and I looked to my left and he is standing right next to me and he walks in [for a hug]. He said, ‘Don’t get up MO, don’t get up.’ I’m like, I’m getting up, ”O’Meara said with a laugh. “He gave me a big hug and I told him I love him. I told him I was so grateful that he was fine and that you were here with Charlie.

Tiger Woods joined the O’Mearas for breakfast like it was 2000 and they were hanging out at Isleworth, the Orlando area country club he joined when he turned pro and where he and O’Meara are now friends.

There was a lot to say on the eve of the PNC Championship – Woods’ only competitive golf course in 2021 – but it wasn’t about golf or the annual parent-child event that has become a staple of the season. fall on the golf program. For O’Meara, it was a chance to finally catch up with his friend following a one-vehicle car crash in Los Angeles in February that required multiple surgeries on Woods’ right leg and, of the By all accounts, has been the most physically exhausting rehab in a career filled with grueling physical rehabilitation.

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“It’s a big achievement for him to come back to play Cabin Crew and who knows where he’s going from here, but knowing the competitive nature that burns inside Tiger Woods, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play again on the PGA Tour, ”said O’Meara.

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As encouraging as Woods’ game has been at the Ritz, where he and Charlie finished second behind John Daly and his son, it’s hard to project himself from a 36-hole team event where he had need a golf cart to play. Woods turns 46 this week, which is still relatively young for golfers, but as his medical history shows, the 46 years have been tough.

Woods had no interest in speculation. The PNC Championship was clearly a unique event driven entirely by the ability for a father to spend quality time with his son. As for what he had planned for 2022 and beyond, there is clearly no timeline.

“I’m never going to play a full schedule again. I’m going to have to choose which events, and even then my body might not cooperate with that, ”Woods said. “I don’t know how many events I’m going to play in. And it will be the practice sessions, the practice sessions, the recovery tactics, all of those different things to be able to do that.”

For O’Meara, who was alongside Woods during his most productive and historic years on the Tour, it’s not about whether he will ever play again.


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“I think he’s pretty well placed. I hope and pray that it will. I don’t know if he comes back and plays like he did in the past after what happened in February, but you can never underestimate this young man, ”O’Meara said before add, “I know he’s not a young man anymore, but every time everyone has thought of us, well, maybe it won’t happen, It does. “

John Cook was also at Isleworth during these early years of Woods’ career and despite the age difference, the two shared a familiar bond with Southern California. Like O’Meara, he has seen Woods overcome incredible obstacles throughout his career.

“I would give it a solid 8 ½ [on a scale of 1-10 that he plays again]. I don’t see it in the next 12 months, ”Cook said. “I think next time we see him he will be here [PNC Championship] Next year. I don’t think his body will be physically ready. He can’t train like he wants to train.

“He’s never been a guy who shows up if his game isn’t ready for prime time. [But] I see this happening at some point or else he wouldn’t test a ball, shape the shots on the practice tee, work on a new rider he loves. I think there is a reason for this.

Neither Cook nor O’Meara make their predictions lightly. Of all the injuries and setbacks that Woods suffered, this is clearly something much more arduous and painful.

“Speaking to him, he was pretty open and honest,” Cook said. “He said he was exhausted. He saw enough good stuff with his short clubs and his touch, but the long irons were falling from the sky, but that was just because of a few hiccups. But he said, ‘I’m going to have it.’ “

Cook called it a “pattern,” something to work towards. A goal on the wall of his South Florida home to keep him hungry, much like Jack Nicklaus’ 18 Major Championships that were pinned to his childhood home in Southern California, according to legend.

That goal – that mountain, as Woods might put it – is why two of his oldest friends left the PNC Championship convinced that Woods’ return, whether in 2022 or beyond, is inevitable.


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