Tiger Woods Says Return to the Top of PGA Tour Is Not a “Realistic Expectation for Me” So Let’s Take Him at His Word

The 15-time major champion may make a return to the PGA Tour, but it will be on his own terms

Tiger Woods at the final round of the PNC Championship. The golf icon says he may never return to his top form again, but he's ok with that.
Tiger Woods at the final round of the PNC Championship in December 2020.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty

Tiger Woods did not completely shut the door on a return to the PGA Tour, but the manner in which he left it ajar leaves little room to believe anything other than his days of winning majors are over for good.

That, as Woods may miraculously one day be after his horrific California car accident in February, is okay.

Speaking with Golf Digest ahead of the Hero World Challenge tournament in the Bahamas that benefits his foundation, Woods said he may eventually return to play a tournament on the PGA Tour, but will probably never return to the form that allowed him to win 15 major championships and a record-tying 82 victories on the Tour.

“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 told Golf Digest. “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.”

If Woods, who made it clear he expects to play again (and recently posted a video showcasing that) just on his terms and at a different level, can accept that reality and has made his peace with it, the rest of the world should as well. Woods already made an improbable return from five back surgeries, drug addiction and multiple other (self-inflicted) issues to win the Masters in 2019 and give fans the comeback story they had been craving. Asking Woods to rewrite that story is too big of an ask.

“I don’t have to compete and play against the best players in the world to have a great life. After my back fusion, I had to climb Mt. Everest one more time,” Woods said while alluding to the Masters win. “I had to do it, and I did. This time around, I don’t think I’ll have the body to climb Mt. 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.”

Let’s let Woods, who suffered comminuted open fractures to both the tibia and the fibula in his right leg and faced the possibility of amputation following his accident, walk away into the sunset — and be happy he can do it on his own two feet. If he has to use a golf cart, which wouldn’t be allowed on the Tour, that’s fine too.

“I have so far to go,” the 45-year-old said. “I’m not even at the halfway point.” If that’s as far as Woods makes it, that’s enough.

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