23 January 2019: Dan Kilbridge of Golf Week from the Tiger Woods Website
Tiger Woods is back where it all started.
The 2018 comeback season finished with a win at the Tour Championship but it started right here, at Torrey Pines, where Woods had no idea what to expect when he made his season debut at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Now he’s finally had time to reflect on all that went down in that wild seven-month stretch, and he showed up Tuesday morning ready to do it all over again.
“It was quite interesting to try and figure it all out as the year progressed and evolved,” Woods said. “This year I have a great understanding of what I can and can’t do. There’s not the uncertainty I had going into last year.”
Now there’s just a lot of anticipation.
Those were some of Woods’ first public comments in two months since the Hero World Challenge, when the 2019 prep was just picking up. He opted to begin the new year here, where he’s won eight times, skipping the Tournament of Champions in Maui to keep grinding away on the practice range and in the gym.
“A lot of it’s been training, trying to get stronger,” Woods said. “Last year toward the end of the season I got really tired, because I didn’t expect to play that much golf at the end and I didn’t train for it. This offseason I spent a lot of time in the gym and I’ve gotten a lot stronger and I feel like my legs are where they need to be, which they weren’t at the end of the season.”
He’d been planning that offseason work for a long time, knew what he needed to do even before the victory at East Lake. He mentioned that after a T-6 finish at the BMW Championship, one of seven tournaments in a nine-week span that made for an exhausting end to the season.
Woods also said he was able to start scuba diving and free diving again this offseason. The tank put too much pressure on his back prior to spinal fusion surgery, but he’s good to go now and back to hobbies he picked up years ago.
“To be able to do that again, to be able to get in the water and free dive, put the fins on and load the body up and drop down like that, that was something I truly missed. I love being in the water.”
Dialing the schedule back a bit and getting in better shape for the weeks he does play was Woods’ biggest priority. That groundwork is done. The next step is seeing how it all looks and feels in an actual tournament, with Woods set to tee off at 1:40 p.m. EST alongside Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele.
Woods finished T-23 last year and missed the cut in his next start, at the Genesis Open. The three Florida events that followed – 12th at the Honda Classic, T-2 at the Valspar Championship, T-5 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational – put the golf world on notice and proved Woods was still capable of winning. The scores were great, the swing looked good, but it was still mostly a guessing game.
Now the equipment is dialed in, the swing is familiar, the body is stronger and the outlook is bright as Woods gets ready for another run in 2019.
“It’s totally different,” Woods said. “I know what I can do, I know what I’m feeling, so now it’s about finishing a little bit better and winning some events this year.”