Former Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley hopes Tiger Woods can avoid becoming a ceremonial golfer as he continues his comeback from a near-fatal car crash in February last year.
McGinley was speaking on Golf Channel following Woods’ withdrawal ahead of the final round of the US PGA Championship.
The 15-time major winner played through the pain barrier all week at Southern Hills and although he made the halfway cut where many, including the world number one Scottie Scheffler, couldn’t, McGinley hopes that if Woods is to return to the fairways, that he can do so competing for titles and not just making ceremonial appearances as he plays through the pain.
“All we can do is wish him well,” McGinley said following Tiger’s third round 79.
“We’d love to see him back, we want to see him back. He’s such a proud player that he doesn’t want to come back and just be a ceremonial golfer.
“We don’t want to see that either. I went through that with Seve Ballesteros, watching him on the European Tour being a ceremonial golfer to some extent his last four or five years and it wasn’t very nice to experience.
“We don’t want to see that with Tiger Woods and hopefully there’s some more to come and better rehab to come, and also golf courses that are going to be kinder to him.”
Exactly how far Woods is away from rediscovering any semblance of full fitness remains to be seen. The 46-year old described playing in this year’s Masters tournament as his equivalent to climbing Everest, believing the journey is “only going to get flatter and better” from here.
“There’s a lot of hardware in there (the right leg) and there’s going to be limitations to what I’m going to be able to do, but I’m going to get stronger,” he explained.
“I don’t know (by) how much that is or how much range of motion I’ll ever get back. But sure is a hell of a lot better than it was 12 months ago.”
Woods revealed the extent his right leg is inhibiting his swing following his first round 74 in Tulsa:
“I just can’t load it,” he said. “Loading hurts, pressing off it hurts, and walking hurts, and twisting hurts. It’s just golf. If I don’t do that, then I’m all right.”
For a half-fit Woods to make the cut where so many players couldn’t speaks volumes for his resolve, however a video of Woods’ right leg buckling under him prior to his moving day round should’ve been enough in itself to withdraw from the tournament at halfway.
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Exactly where we will next see Woods remains unclear but with next month’s US Open at Brookline sure to provide another stern test, it might just be that the great man waits for the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews in July, and the small matter of the JP McManus Pro-Am a week or so before that.
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