Tiger Woods gave fans a positive sign on Thursday, not just in that he played a full practice round at Southern Hills, the venue for next month’s US PGA Championship, but he also walked all 18 holes. The 15-time major winner was seriously injured in a car accident last year, and made his long-awaited golf comeback to play through pain at Augusta this April.
Woods’ intention regarding the US PGA is still unknown, but the fact he flew out to Oklahoma to play a full practice round shows that it is certainly not being ruled out. The 46-year-old sustained serious leg injuries in February last year and has had to painstakingly work his way back to full fitness.
Fans were treated to a superb comeback at the Masters, where Woods shot one under par on day one and held his own on day two to make the cut and stick around for rounds three and four. The California-born golf hero has prevailed at Augusta on five prior occasions, including his most recent major in 2019, but had to settle for a respectable 47th-place finish this time around.
In the aftermath, Woods admitted that his injuries are set to prevent him from returning to a full competitive schedule. But major tournaments remain on the cards, and he is clearly hungry for more.
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The next major begins in Oklahoma on May 19, with Phil Mickleson the defending US PGA champion. His return to the tournament now appears unlikely, however, after requesting permission to take part in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
The US PGA field list includes both Mickleson and Woods, but neither player has made their stance on this year’s tournament official. Encouragingly for Woods fans, he reportedly walked the entire 18 holes of his Southern Hills practice round on Thursday.
That comes as a promising sign for a player who was visibly in pain at Augusta last month, with many wondering whether he would be able to put his body through the stresses and strains of top-level competition going forward.
Woods has four prior victories at Southern Hills, with the last coming in 2007. His dominance of the sport spread from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s before enduring a rocky spell on and off the course due to personal issues and injuries. He shocked the world with a stunning victory at Augusta in 2019, 11 years after his previous major triumph.
If he grants fans’ wishes and plays at the US PGA this year, he could have grand plans over the next few months with The Open also believed to be in the crosshairs.
“I won’t be playing a full schedule ever again,” Woods told Sky Sports earlier this month. “It’ll be just the big events. I don’t know if I’ll be able to play [the PGA Championship] at Southern Hills or not, but I am looking forward to St. Andrews.
“That is something that is near and dear to my heart. You know, I’ve won two Opens there, it’s the home of golf, it’s my favorite golf course in the world. I will be there for that one. Anything in between that, I don’t know. I will try, there’s no doubt. This week, I will try to get ready for Southern Hills, and we’ll see what this body is able to do.”