In 2011, Tiger Woods’ game suffered after sustaining an Achilles injury during The Masters that bothered him pretty much the rest of the year. It cost him an attempt to win a couple of majors and that’s not something he wants to do again. That’s why, he says, he chose to withdraw in the middle of the final round this past weekend instead of attempting to fight through more Achilles pain.
Just a few days later, Woods says the knee feels good now and that h’es been cleared to start hitting balls again. He plans to play at Bay Hill and then at The Masters next month and says he continues to tee it up believing he’ll win every time.
Tiger Woods joined ESPN Radio with Scott Van Pelt to discuss his recent injury in the final round of last weekend’s event, when he realized something was wrong, his confidence level, working on his putting, his mentality heading into tournaments, withdrawing last weekend, if it’s his goal to be No. 1 in the world and what it’s like to change caddies and coaches.
How’s your leg?:
“The leg’s good now. I took a couple days off and got some treatment on it. I’ve got the go-ahead to start hitting balls tomorrow and start ramping up and get ready for Bay Hill.”
When did you realize during that final round that something wasn’t right?:
“On the range. I was warming up on the range and my Achilles started getting tight. I could feel it kind of working its way up the calf. Unfortunately I’ve been down this road before. It’s not a fun road. This time I decided to actually do the prudent thing and not push it and not hurt it like I did last time.”
How much confidence do you take to the course with you heading to Bay Hill and The Masters?:
“A lot. Quite a bit. I’m excited about playing, I’m excited about how my game’s progressing. My stats are the best they’ve been in years. It’s just about making a crucial up and down at the right time or making a key putt here and there and getting some momentum going.”
Do you try to remember certain things your dad taught you on the putting green when you work on that part of your game?:
“Actually I do go back to all of those teachings. That’s one of the great things about it is I have all those lessons. I have them all written down and just kind of skim through the notes. It’s amazing how right he was.”
What are your expectations at this point? Do you still tee it up every time thinking you’ll win?:
“Absolutely. That’s the only reason why you enter. If you don’t expect to win, don’t enter. … I had my first knee surgery in ’94, got some cysts removed. So it’s been a long time [since my body's been perfect].”
Was withdrawing with the injury a sign of maturity?:
“It’s something that I don’t like doing because I felt that over the years I can play through just about anything. It’s also the reason why I kept getting hurt over the years. I’ve just got to be smart and look at the big picture. The big picture is that The Masters is coming up. Last year, I was not prudent about pulling out when I should have and I missed two major championships last year and I don’t want to do that again.”
Do you have the goal of getting back to being ranked No. 1 in the world again?:
“It’s not a goal. The goal is never to be No. 1 in the world. The goal is to win golf tournaments and all that takes care of itself, whether it’s Player of the Year, stroke average, money list titles or the world rankings. All that’s taken care of by being consistent and winning golf tournaments. … The great thing is putting myself there and winning tournaments over the years. The other stuff was just the result of it.”
Is it difficult to go through changes in your coaches or your caddies?:
“It’s just part of it and it’s part of playing the tour. But also it’s a part of any sport. Ours is an individual spot and we do go through different coaches, different trainers, different caddies. Other team sports go through coaches all the time, learning new systems, all these different things. That’s just part of life.”
Listen to Tiger Woods on ESPN Radio here (Interview begins at 10:20)