Tiger Woods updates health status after Hero World Challenge withdrawal, eyes limited 2023 schedule

Tiger Woods updates health status after Hero World Challenge withdrawal, eyes limited 2023 schedule

Tiger Woods said on Tuesday he’s hitting “whatever shot you want” right now, which is good news. The bad news, however, is that he’s unable to play the Hero World Challenge this week because he can’t walk to hit the next one.

On Monday, Woods withdrew from the event which he hosts alongside his foundation, and on Tuesday, he gave an update on the plantar fasciitis that will keep him sidelined for the four-day tournament in the Bahamas.

“Well, it was a tough decision just because I want to play. I like playing, I like competing, but unfortunately, I can hit the golf ball and hit whatever shot you want, I just can’t walk,” said Woods. “And so I’ve had a few setbacks during the year that I still was able to somehow play through, but this one I just can’t. … only time can heal this one and stay off my feet and get a lot of treatment done.

“As I was ramping up and had to walk more, the worse it got. So 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.”

That has been a theme throughout the year. When he’s played, Woods has actually hit the ball fairly well given how little he’s competed over the last two years. The issues have more surrounded endurance and physical stamina than the golf swing.

Though he demurred on any long-term issues, he did concede that the foot injury — which is on the same right leg that was mangled in a car crash nearly two years ago — was related to all of his other leg injuries. However, he still plans to play The Match on Dec. 10 and the PNC Championship on Dec. 17-18. He’ll be able to ride in a cart at both events. 

“I can hit golf balls. It’s the walking that just hurts. So … when you’ve got plantar fasciitis, the only thing you can do is rest and try and stretch that out as best as possible, but it’s rest. How do you rest when you’re hosting a tournament? You know, it’s hard. So this will be a tough week. The [PNC Championship] will be a very easy week, Charlie will just hit all the shots and I’ll just get the putts out of the hole, so pretty easy there. But other than that, in the match we’re playing in, we’re flying in carts.”

When asked, Woods adamantly noted that he would never consider applying to ride in a cart for a sanctioned PGA Tour event. So what does this setback mean for 2023? Probably nothing. Woods was only planning on playing 4-6 events anyway (the four majors and “one or two more”), which he still believes he’ll be able to do, cart or not.

“It’s going to take probably, you know, a month or two of rest,” said Woods of his foot injury. “But also it was the ramping up process that did it. It’s a balancing act, right? How hard do you push it to make progress while not pushing it too hard to go off the edge and you set yourself back two, three days, and that’s been the balancing act the whole year. And trying to do that, get ready for this event, I did a lot of beach walks trying to simulate the sand out here and my foot just did not like that very much.”

“The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more,” he added. “Physically, that’s all I can do. … I don’t have much left in this leg, so gear up for the biggest ones and hopefully, you know, 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. But again, giving myself a chance to get out there again.”

Woods insisted that he was shooting up to 7 under at home “like it was nothing”, so it wasn’t an issue of skill but rather of pain tolerance and stamina. Given his historical threshold for pain, this platar fasciitis problem is undoubtedly devilish.

As has been true all year with Woods, there will be stops and starts. Some days, weeks and months, he will likely feel great. Other days, weeks and months, he almost certainly will not. Is it likely that he plays in and finishes six events next year? Based on how this year went (and is ending), probably not. Although it was good to hear that this particular injury only needs rest and is not a long-term problem.

There will be other issues, though. Curiously, Woods also disclosed that he had two surgeries earlier in the year but did not elaborate about when they took place or what part of his body was operated on. That is emblematic of where he’s at in his career. And while his leg and foot could improve, other parts of his body will certainly deterioriate.

The silver lining in all of this is that Tiger played more in 2022 than he expected. He said he was ahead of schedule given that this time a year ago he thought he would only play in the Open. He also noted that he had seen progress in his leg since the Open Championship, in which he played the eighth and ninth rounds of his 2022 year (all nine of which came at major championships). It was only recently that he experienced this right foot setback.