December 10, 2023

Woods makes yet another comeback at Open

SAN MARTIN, Calif. (AP) — No matter how Tiger Woods plays in the Open, it won’t be from a lack of practice.

Woods will have gone seven weeks since his last tournament when he tees off Thursday afternoon at CordeValle. This is the first time in more than a year that he’ll compete on a golf course he’s never seen. Those two elements add to the mystery of what to expect.

As for the process of changing his swing?

Woods eliminated that as an excuse Wednesday when he said, “The major overhauls are done.”

“I’ve done all that work,” Woods said. “Now it’s just fine tuning.”

For a guy who essentially has been out of work for nearly two months, Woods said he has been working overtime. When last seen at a golf tournament, he missed the cut at the PGA Championship for only the third time in a major and did not qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.

It wasn’t a complete loss.

Along with missing the bulk of the summer while letting injuries to his left leg fully heal, Woods has lamented the lack of practice. Right when he was starting to understand his new swing with coach Sean Foley, he hurt his left leg while hitting a shot from the pine straw on the 17th hole of the third round at the Masters.

“And then after that, I was kind of shot for a while,” he said.

He couldn’t practice hardly at all between the Masters in April and withdrawing from The Players Championship after nine holes in May. Then he took three months off, and when his doctors gave him full clearance to practice, it was time for the Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship, six rounds of not very memorable golf.

And now?

There was one occasion during his pro-am round when he asked Foley to videotape his swing. On another shot, he couldn’t figure out why the flight of his tee shot started out as a cut and then hooked back to the left.

Otherwise, Woods feels as though he’s back to the simple part of golf: Step up and hit it.

“I don’t need to worry about whether I have the club here or here or here or here or here,” he said. “I’ve done all that legwork, and now it’s time to play. And that’s where I needed to get to, which I hadn’t been able to because I wasn’t healthy enough to get there. And that part was frustrating, because I know what I can do in the game, and I just needed the time to practice.

“And that’s why I’m so excited about being here and playing.”

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