By DOUG FERGUSON
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Tiger Woods painted an uncertain picture about how much golf he can play, saying Tuesday that “I don’t have much left in this leg.”
He also doesn’t have much hope the PGA Tour and the Saudi-funded rival league can get along unless Greg Norman is out as LIV Golf’s leader.
“Not right now. Not with their leadership. Not with Greg there and his animosity toward the tour itself,” Woods said. “I don’t see that happening.”
Rory McIlroy also said in Dubai two weeks ago that Norman needs to “exit stage left” before there can be any meaningful discussions between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.
Woods artfully skirted around other questions on Tuesday, such as details on two unexpected surgeries he had last year and whether the 20-man field at the Hero World Challenge should be getting points toward the world ranking.
He was forceful on the effect of LIV Golf, referring to friction the rival league has caused and how lawsuits stand in the way of any reconciliation.
“If one side has so much animosity — someone trying to destroy our tour — then how do we work with that?” Woods said.
Phil Mickelson was among 10 players who filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in August, a lawsuit since taken over by LIV Golf. Bryson DeChambeau, Peter Uihlein and Matt Jones are the only players still involved as plaintiffs. The PGA Tour since has filed a countersuit. A trial date is tentatively scheduled for January 2024.
Woods said the lawsuits would have to be settled — he used the word “stay” on more than one occasion — or there is no way forward.
Woods is at Albany Golf Club strictly as the tournament host. He had to withdraw on Monday because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot that makes it too difficult to walk over 72 holes, even on a relatively flat course for a holiday event.
Woods said he was posting low scores at home in Florida while riding in a cart. And his next two events — a made-for-TV match over 12 holes on Dec. 10, and the PNC Championship with his son the following weekend — allow for carts.
“I can hit the golf ball and hit whatever shot you want,” he said. “I just can’t walk.”
He said the plantar fasciitis was related to injuries he suffered in the Los Angeles car crash in February 2021, which ended any hope of him playing on a regular basis.
A year ago, Woods was just starting to take full swings with the driver and his ambition was to make it to St. Andrews for the 150th edition of the British Open. He wound up playing the Masters and the PGA Championship, too.
That amounted to nine rounds — four at Augusta National, three at the PGA Championship (he withdrew after the third round) and two at St. Andrews.
Woods felt he was making progress in the months after the British Open, only to hurt his right foot while trying to prepare for a 72-hole event in the Bahamas.
“When you get plantar fasciitis, the worst thing you can do is walk, and I was walking more and more and more, trying to get my legs ready for this event, and I just kept making it worse,” he said. “So had to shut it down.”
He said he would take a month or two to rest, which won’t affect his golf schedule because he wasn’t going to play that much, anyway.
This has been coming. Woods turns 47 on Dec. 30, and he has had roughly as many surgeries as majors he was won (15).
“The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more. That’s it. Physically, that’s all I can do. I told you that (at) the beginning of this year, too,” he said.
“I mean, I don’t have much left in this leg, so gear up for the biggest ones and hopefully, lightning catches in a bottle and I’m up there in contention with a chance to win, and hopefully, I remember how to do that.”
He said he did everything to prepare for St. Andrews, only for his leg to act up on him and lead to an early departure packed with emotion. Woods does not anticipate returning to another Open at St. Andrews.
His health wasn’t great that week beyond his leg, though it wasn’t COVID-19.
McIlroy, in a wide-ranging interview with the Sunday Independent in Ireland, said he and Woods played a practice round at Ballybunion on the Thursday before the British Open and McIlroy was feeling ill afterward.
He said sweat was pouring off him and his temperature spiked. McIlroy called Woods, who reported he was feeling fine. But then Woods texted him that night and said he had chills and a fever.
“And I’m like, ‘(Expletive), I’ve just given Tiger COVID!’ This is horrendous!’” McIlroy said. “So we both had COVID going into the Open.”
Woods said he tested for the coronavirus and it came back negative.
“Was I feeling under the weather? Yes, wasn’t feeling great the whole week,” Woods said. “But I never got a positive test.”
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