Tiger Woods has shut down any notion that he is playing The Genesis Invitational tournament to just compete, after stating his intention to come away with the victory this weekend. Woods is set to play his first tournament in 2023 after a seven-month layoff from The Open in July last year.
The 15-time major winner scaled back his efforts on the PGA Tour after setting a goal to come back stronger from a life-threatening car accident in 2021. Having taken the rest of the year off to work on his fitness after missing the cut at The Open, Woods announced on the weekend that he would be making a much-anticipated return.
“I’m ready to play an ACTUAL PGA Tour event next week @thegenesisinv,” Woods tweeted on Saturday morning. Woods has played in three events since his 2021 crash, all of them majors.
And all eyes were on Woods during his first press conference in California. The American was quickly asked about how he was feeling and if the right leg had improved since fans last saw him on the course.
"As far as the recovery, it's more my ankle, whether I can recover from day to day," Woods said on Tuesday. "The leg is better than it was last year, but it's my ankle.
"So being able to have it recover from day to day and meanwhile still stress it but have the recovery and also have the strength development at the same time, it's been an intricate little balance that we've had to dance."
Tiger Woods sends warning to rivals at Genesis Invitational
Despite admitting that there was still pain in his leg, Woods' competitive nature - that has seen him win claim the second most majors in history - hasn't deserted him one bit. The 47-year-old was bullish in a response when asked if he would ever compete knowing that he might not be able to win because of his ageing body.
"I have not come around to the idea...If I am playing, I am playing to win. I can't wrap my mind around that as a competitor. If I am playing the event I am going to try and beat you. I am playing to get the W," he said.
"I don't understand that making the cut is a great thing. If I enter the event it is to win...There will come a point in time where my body won't allow me to do that anymore. And that is probably sooner, rather than later.
"Wrapping around my head around the transition and being an ambassador to just play and be out here with the guys...that is not in my DNA." Woods' comments certainly fired up golf fans who are yearning to see the legend competing at the big tournaments in 2023.
Love this guy. Eat or be eaten. He is the ultimate competitor!@TigerWoods! https://t.co/j7XaYEDzV7
— Ryan Burr (@RyanBurr) February 14, 2023
The 30-second mark when he composes himself was ✨the moment✨
— Adam Stanley (@adam_stanley) February 14, 2023
Love that response. Heck yes!!
— Robert McIntire (@macntiger) February 14, 2023
There will never be another Tiger Woods
— Michael Hamlin (@RealMike_H) February 14, 2023
Tiger Woods is in the house at riviera. Says “we’ve been pushing it” pretty hard in relation to his inured right leg pic.twitter.com/UwKS5McWcT
— Evin Priest (@EvinPriest) February 14, 2023
“If I’m playing, I’m playing to win.”
Brilliant answer from Tiger Woods.
Still moving the needle for golf all these years later.
— Daniel Hussey (@DanielHussey2) February 14, 2023
Woods was seen on Tuesday evening taking to the driving range and also having a chat with Australian golfer Jason Day. Woods was injured two years ago in a car accident right near the Rivera Country Club, the location of this year's tournament. Woods will play at the tournament, which he hosts and benefits his foundations.
Incredibly, Woods made his debut at the Genesis Invitational when he was 16 years old due to a sponsor invite. He has won a record 82 PGA Tour events, but never the Genesis Invitational.
Woods admitted that he wouldn't be taking on a strenuous golf schedule this year, which should include the four majors and a handful of tournaments in between. His next scheduled tournament is The Masters in April.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.