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'If you asked me last year whether I would play golf again, all of my surgeons would have said no. But here I am'

Tiger Woods spoke to the media today at the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor.

Tiger Woods speaks to the press at Adare Manor.
Tiger Woods speaks to the press at Adare Manor.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

TIGER WOODS HAS seen off every opponent who ever dared to stare him down but now he’s in a play-off with time itself. 

Added to his 46 years of age are major back and leg surgeries, but on Woods (fitfully) plays: teeing it up at the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor this week ahead of the Open Championship at St Andrews in nine days’ time. 

The Pro-Am is only his third competition of the year, having played the Masters and then the US PGA Championship, withdrawing prior to the final round and then withdrawing from the US Open. 

“The plan was to play the U.S. Open but physically I was not able to do that”, said Woods at Adare Manor this afternoon. “There’s no way physically I could have done that. I had some issues with my leg and it would have put this tournament in jeopardy and so there’s no reason to do that.

“This is a pretty historic Open that we are going to be playing. I’m lucky enough to be part of the past champions that have won there, and want to play there again, and I don’t know when they are ever going to go back [to St Andrews] while I’m still able to play at a high level. I want to be able to give it at least one more run at a high level.” 

Elaborating on the upcoming Open at St Andrews, Woods said, “it’s awfully impressive and to have won The Open Championship and for me specifically to have won at the Home of Golf is even more special. As Jack [Nicklaus] says, your career is not complete unless you’ve won an Open Championship at the Home of Golf, and I feel like he’s correct in that regard.”

That was the theme of Woods’ press conference: his acknowledgement that this unparalleled career is in its twilight. That may be natural for anyone who needed major surgery on a leg after a major car crash a year ago…but Tiger Woods is not anyone. He described the rehab from his crash injury as “more painful than anything I have ever experienced”, but says the experience of playing at two majors this year – along with his appearance at Adare Manor – made it worthwhile. 

“It’s been worth it. It’s been hard. I’ve had some very difficult days and some days which moving off the couch is a hell of a task, and that’s just the way it is. As I said, I’m very thankful for all the support I’ve gotten, my treatment staff, all of my surgeons who are repairing this leg and keeping it.

“So I have my own two legs, which, I tell you, I’m not going to take for granted anymore, some people do. But people who have come close or lost a limb understand what I’m saying, but you have difficult days and also you have great days. They are not what they used to be, that’s for sure. But they are great days which I can spend with my kids and do things that they can do at a slightly slower pace, but I can still do it with them.” 

This is Woods’ fifth appearance at the McManus Pro-Am, and there’s one reason he keeps coming back. 

“JP. What JP does for charities, for any charitable organisation in the country of Ireland and some places around the world, is second-to-none. He raises a lot of money, and all that money goes out. I mean, he doesn’t keep any of it.

“I’ve always loved coming to Ireland”, he continued. “I’ve loved coming here since first time, I think it was in ’99 when Marc [O'Meara], me, and Payne [Stewart] were over here and we were fishing down in Waterville. We played Ballybunion, Payne made a hole-in-one. We’ve had some great times.” 

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Woods also confirmed that he will play some Irish courses over the coming days to get ready for St Andrews, though declined to say where, so as to avoid attracting a crowd. 40,000 fans have returned to Adare Manor again today to get a glimpse of Woods in action for what may be the final time on Irish soil. 

Woods would put the emphasis on the word may

“If you asked me last year whether I would play golf again, all of my surgeons would have said no. But here I am playing two major championships this year.

“I will always be able to play golf, whether it’s this leg or someone else’s leg or false leg or different body pieces that have been he placed or fused, I’ll always be able to play. Now if you say play at a championship level, well, that window is definitely not as long as I would like it to be.” 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from the JP McManus Pro-Am, Adare Manor

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