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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

‘YouTube legend’ Tiger Woods seeks a rewind on comeback trail

Wanting my children to have a better understanding of my career motivation to stay healthy, says Tiger Woods, winner of 14 Majors

other-sports Updated: Nov 29, 2017 23:14 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Albany, Bahamas
Bob Dow (from left) , Kishore Musale, Tiger Woods, Pawan Munjal and Mandy Quattlebaum during the Pro-Am ahead of Hero Word Challenge.
Bob Dow (from left) , Kishore Musale, Tiger Woods, Pawan Munjal and Mandy Quattlebaum during the Pro-Am ahead of Hero Word Challenge.(HT Photo)

By his own admission, the return of Tiger Woods is the story of a ‘YouTube golfer’ seeking a second chance at the sport he was jaw-droppingly good at and at life away from using the golf club as a crutch.

Retirement isn’t on Woods’ mind now, rehabilitation is as he seeks to get a body he didn’t realise was giving up on him to do his bidding $3.5 million at the Hero World Challenge here. It is going to take some mental steel.

READ | Unsure of body and game, Tiger Woods makes comeback at Hero World Challenge

“I always thought that I was tough mentally. My dad always thought so as well. Going through all this just reaffirmed that,” said Woods at Tuesday’s media conference, albeit to a different question.

Will that help revive a career that has fetched 79 titles, only two less than the remaining 17 invited here? “I am just looking forward to getting through these four rounds,” he said, but couldn’t resist ending with giving “myself a chance on that back nine on Sunday to win this thing.”

Speaking to Indian journalists here before that, Woods had said that earlier, while recovering he would “mentally” practice shots and scenarios. “Now, the focus is all on keeping golf balls on the course.”

WATCH | Tiger Woods set to return to active golf after 10 months

They don’t yet include hitting out of the rough or big slices but he doesn’t need to do that on this course designed by Ernie Els.

All the time Woods, 42 next month, fulfilled media commitments, he looked relaxed. “I never had a problem with the hair getting in my eyes,” he said, as the wind did exactly that for many. “I don’t need a tan,” he said, talking about Bahamas. And it was he who gave currency to the phrase “YouTube golfer.”

Tiger Woods during the Pro-Am ahead of Hero World Challenge.
Tiger Woods during the Pro-Am ahead of Hero World Challenge. ( HT Photo )

“…They (his children) always think I am the YouTube golfer. They have never seen me in action. So most of the stuff they’ve watched has been on highlights packages…And then when I started coming back for this event, Sam (daughter) wanted to go out on the golf course with me. Charlie’s (son), the same thing, he wants to compete, he wants to play with me, those things are special,” he said.

“I want them to have a better understanding of my career…I don’t know how long I am going to be playing.” That is motivation enough to stay healthy, he said.

READ | Tiger Woods’ daughter describes dad as the ‘Messi of golf’

In a field that has eight of the world’s top 10 the comeback man ranked 1199 is the cynosure. Anybody want to ask about my, Justin Thomas trailed off as questioners sought to know what it felt like for the 24-year-old FedEx Cup and PGA Championship winner to be playing against Woods for the first time.

Thomas’ first recollection of Woods’ winning was in 2000, he said. Thomas said he still looks up Woods’ clips. “We grew up in that era,” he said. The era of Woods and his 14 Majors.

That was before the neatest thing for Woods became getting out of bed and not grabbing a club as a crutch. In that time, the kids --- “when I turned pro, Jordan (Spieth) was in diapers, right?” --- grew up, became friends but will be competitors this week.

It may not be easy to better the YouTube legend --- “I mean I was pretty good and they showed only my good shots” – but for the next four days Woods hopes he can make the field feel like “what some of my past guys had to go against all those years.”

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 20:50 IST