Last Sunday, Tiger Woods (quite very literally) bowed out of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, after a back injury left him doubled over in pain. On Wednesday, after a practice round at the PGA Championship, he had apparently made a miraculous recovery.
"I felt pretty good about how I played and the shots I hit," Woods told a throng of reporters. "My range of motion was good…it was back to normal."
No pun intended. And while Woods claims he's ready to roll, should we believe him? After all, his back forced him out of the Masters and the U.S. Open this year, and, quite frankly, we've heard this kind of thing from him before. In fact, ever since his last major win at the 2008 Open, we've heard it more and more.
Sure, Tiger's still had spells of dominance during his six-year major drought, he's yet to move any closer to matching Jack Nicklaus' mark of 18 major tournament victories. And when it comes to Woods, it's always about chasing history. So, as the injuries mount, and his 40th birthday looms, we don't remember his wins at the Farmers Insurance Open…we remember the cuts he's missed and his absence from the leaderboard at the big-time tournaments.
Still, Tiger remains positive about the progress he's making, and the steps he's taking to return to form. How positive? Well, according to him, he's been this close to putting it all together...for more than five years now.
"Just give me a little bit of time. I started to feel a little bit better each and every week, and my ball count is coming back to where it used to be. I can practice like I used to. I can play the holes at home like I used to. You have to go out there and do the reps. I've been able to start doing that now."
"That's been nice to see the progress, to be able to go out there and hit the golf ball the way I know I can, know the fixes and understand the concept. That is something I am proud of, and I'm showing some good signs so far and just got to keep building."
"It's been a while. I hadn't played good enough for anyone to cheer anything. So it was nice to actually put it together on the back nine and put myself right back in the championship."
"If it happens, it happens. I'm going to give it my best. But that doesn't change my commitment to getting better."
"It was fun to make a couple of putts. It's amazing what happens when you get a putt to the hole. It actually does go in. I can do this in streaks. Unfortunately, I haven't done this for an entire round."
"As I played throughout the summer, I kept trying to do the things that I was working on with Hank over the years, and it just wasn't working anymore, and it got to a point where I just couldn't do it. It's kind of hard to try and play tournament-level golf, major-championship golf especially, when at the time I was struggling with which way the ball was going to go."
"The way I'm playing right now, yeah, I would like to continue playing. Even though I lost and made countless mistakes in the middle part of the round, it said a lot for me to come back and put my swing back together again."
"I'm putting the pieces together. Everything is kind of shaping up and heading the right direction, which is good, and peaking right at the right time for the Tavistock Cup."
"I was really close to putting it together. It's getting better. It's getting better. I'm improving day by day, which is good. Obviously tomorrow I need to improve a lot and make the putts and post a really low one tomorrow."
"I'm very pleased with the progress I've made with [swing coach] Sean [Foley], and it's finally paying off under pressure. It held up nicely last week at the [Australian] Open, and it held up nicely this week."
"I finally feel like I've been able to implement everything now onto the golf course in a tournament situation. The way I hit the ball in Australia was basically the way I've been hitting the ball at home, but I hadn't taken it to the golf course yet."
"The last couple of years, I haven't really played as well as I'd like. I made some changes in my swing and I've obviously been hurt and that kind of added to it. Now I'm healthy, playing again, playing more and playing consistently."
"The lowest moments [last year] came from the fact that I wasn't healthy and couldn't put in the time on-and-off the course that I wanted and needed to, and that was frustrating. I was playing with pain and that isn't fun. The last couple of months have been really fun and that is mostly because I am feeling healthy again and building week-on-week."
"Things are progressing in my last few stroke-play events, so it's getting better. Once I was finally able to get the reps in, then things started coming. My body is remembering these positions."
"I feel like I'm driving the ball much better than I have. I've got some heat behind it, and it's very straight. My iron game is improving. So everything is headed in the right direction at the right time."
"It's just building. I was putting together the pieces each and every day. I wasn't that far off, and it was just kind of building. I had a great time out there. I've been hitting it like this, that's the thing. No reason I can't do it again today. It all came together.''
"I'm always looking to improve and become more consistent day in and day out. There's certainly some weeks where I was just off. I always wish I could play a little bit more consistent and have a chance each and every time I tee it up. That's the intent. Whether that happens or not, it doesn't always work out that way. But overall at the end of the year, I think it's been a really good year."
"We're going to take the week off and kind of recoup and recover, get ready for the Presidents Cup, and then basically assess the year and what we need to work on in the offseason. I've got a couple of tournaments that I'm playing in that I could try and make some improvements, try and work on some things for next year."
"I was down for three months so I'm just now starting to come back. I'm still building. I'm still working on my game and I'm still getting stronger and faster."
"I'm starting to get the flow of the round, the flow of playing again. But still I've just made too many mistakes. You can't run up high scores like that and expect to contend, especially when the conditions are this benign. Most of the scores are 3-under par or better. I certainly didn't do that."
"The British Open was supposed to be my first event back. I healed extremely fast. It's been an interesting road. It was quite a tedious little process."
"I hate to say it, but I'm really encouraged by what happened this week. I missed the cut by four shots – that's a lot. But the fact that what I was able to do physically, and the speed I had and the distance that I was hitting the golf ball again, I had not done that in a very long time. Felt great today. Then, as I said, I made so many little mistakes...all the little things that I know I can fix."
"If I could just hit the ball a little better. I hit it pretty decent today, which was nice, I just didn't [putt] well at all again. I couldn't get comfortable with my setup and it just kind of worked out that way. I actually smoked it coming home. I figured something out there. Unfortunately, too little, too late. But if I continue doing what I was doing coming in today, I'll be just fine."
We're sure he'll figure it out one of these days.