There was winning a tournament and then winning a major. Now, Tiger Woods was asked, is the next thing returning to dominance?
Woods may have answered the question differently back when.
“I’m not looking at it like that,” he said Tuesday at Bethpage, where he hopes to win major No. 16 and PGA championship No. 4. “Whether I’m dominant or not going forward, that remains to be seen. What I know is I need to give myself the best chance to win the events that I play in, and sometimes that can be taking a little bit more breaks here and there and making sure that I am ready to go and being able to give it my best at those events.”
Likewise, his preparation has changed, owing to age and his physical condition, something he has discussed with future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning, who, with a fused neck, knows what Woods was facing after a fused back operation.
“When he was traded from Indianapolis to Denver, we played together at Medalist (in Florida),” Woods explained. “I said, ‘How’s it feeling?’ He said, ‘Not that great.’ ‘How many push-ups can you do?’ ‘I can do six push-ups.’ He goes out and wins MVP that year.
“So just because someone doesn’t have the strength to do something, he’s going to figure out a different way. He (didn’t) have a fastball, he (couldn’t) zip the ball into those tight little windows … he had to anticipate more, he has to do more work in the film room.
“I had to do more work on managing my game, my body, understanding it, what I can and cannot do, shots that I see I could pull off or better save it for another day. And more than anything, trying to figure out how to be explosive day in and day out.”
Woods made a critical decision by pulling out of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow because he just didn’t feel mentally ready to grind things out to get ready for the week. This will be only the third time in his career that he hasn’t played in between majors. Some wonder if that was wise.
“Being a little bit older and with the back the way it is, there are a lot of concerns and when it comes to what do I need to do to get ready. Sometimes the quick turnarounds may be a little bit more difficult,” he said.
Woods also admitted that there’s a “fickle” nature to his back being fused.
“Some days I have more range of motion. Some days I don’t. Some days I ache more, and sometimes I don’t,” he said. “There’s more volatility, put it that way. There are more days I feel older than my age than I do younger than my age.”
That has limited his practice regimen, he said.
“I can’t spend every day working on every part of my game. That’s just not going to happen anymore,” he admitted. “And so I end up spending a lot of time on my short game a lot of time on pitching and putting. I mean, they’re all smaller motions of a full motion with the driver. I don’t load the body like I used to and be as explosive for a three-, four-hour period on the range. Those days are gone.”