TULSA (Oklahoma): Tiger Woods might be in the twilight of his career but still is the most compelling figure in golf and a guaranteed ratings grabber.
And he will be back in the global golf spotlight when the PGA Championship gets underway this week.
After nearly losing his right leg in a car crash 15 months ago, Woods made his return to competition at the Masters in April and will take the next step in his extraordinary comeback at Southern Hills Country Club.
The 46-year-old won the PGA Championship the last time it was staged at Southern Hills, hoisting the Wanamaker trophy for a fourth time in 2007.
While Woods always plays to win, few expect him to add to his tally of 15 majors this week.
Woods worked the golf world into a frenzy at the Masters when he carded a one-under par 71 in his first round of competitive golf since his horror car crash.
He would make the cut but four rounds on Augusta National’s undulating layout proved too much as he closed with six-over 78s on Saturday and Sunday, his worst-ever scores at the Masters.
The 15-time major winner played a nine-hole practice round Sunday afternoon at Southern Hills and told reporters on site that he felt his surgically repaired leg and foot were feeling stronger than when he played the Masters a month ago.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger since the Masters,” Woods told reporters. “We went back to work on Tuesday [after the Masters]. Monday was awful. I did nothing and Tuesday was leg day. So, we went right back after it.
“We started ramping up a week or so ago, played a little bit more golf, and it was good. Everything is better.”
Woods has made clear that he will pick and choose which tournaments he will play going forward rather than return to playing the PGA Tour full-time. He is three major titles shy of tying Jack Nicklaus’ career record of 18.
His caddie, Joe LaCava, also told reporters that he sees Woods’ strength returning.
“Hundred percent I see him stronger,” LaCava said. “I just think the endurance is there now. I don’t think he’s getting quite as tired as quickly. I see more endurance more than anything.” “Other than the fact that he won here 15 years ago, I think it’s the stamina and endurance thing that excites him the most.”