Tiger Woods: 2018 the 'most rewarding season'

"Towards the end of the year, I just became more and more consistent as a tournament player again," Tiger Woods notes.

2018 has been witness to Woods' resilience and single-minded approach to make up for lost time.   -  ap

Soon-to-be 43, Tiger Woods is fighting an ageing body. No matter how motivated he is to add to the gains of the season bygone, he knows only too well that his physical condition holds the key to success in 2019.

Speaking to the media ahead of the upcoming USD 3.5 million Hero World Challenge this week, Woods reflected, at length, on what turned out to be a glorious 2018 and his plans for the season ahead.

On what has changed from last season to the ensuing one:

I think that being in better shape, physically, is very important going into the next season. It is crucial to handling the condensed schedule and all the big events we play every month.

There’s literally a big event every single month, so physically I’ve got to be in better shape than I was last year to be able to handle that because last year was a moving target — let’s try and make it through the west coast, let’s try and make it to Augusta.

It was always something, it wasn’t like the whole year was planned out. Next season’s different because of what I’ve gone through this year.

On what has been special this year:

Just being able to win a golf tournament again, considering where I was at this point last year and before that point, yeah, I think what I’ve accomplished this year has been pretty special.

On the 2018 season:

Probably the most rewarding, because there was a point where, you’ve all heard me say this, I just didn’t know if I would ever do this again. But to get myself to a point where early on I showed myself that I could win a golf tournament by finishing second in Tampa, then having the failures at Bay Hill and The Open Championship and PGA, I just felt I was getting a little bit closer to it.

You always hear me say it, it’s a process, but if you look at this entire year, it literally was that. You saw me have flashes, and then I would rework a few things here and there. Towards the end of the year, I just became more and more consistent as a tournament player again.

On what made Tour Championship triumph so special:

What made the Tour Championship so special is I took the lead on the first day. I made that eagle putt playing with Tommy (Fleetwood); that made me feel that I had to stay on my toes every single day, and I did.

To build on that lead as the week went on, you saw the start I got off to on Saturday, things like that are not easy to do with the lead, and I was able to maintain it. You add in the whole year and then how that week transpired is what makes it so special.

On how physically demanding it was to play through the year:

I was not physically prepared to play that much golf at the end of the year. I had taken days off here or there, tournaments off, just trying to conserve energy and making sure my body is still good. I didn’t want to hurt anything. But I ended up playing seven out of nine to end the year.

I got into Bridgestone on the number because of my finish at the Open Championship. So there was a week going into the British Open, I really wasn’t on the list yet. And then I enter it, play it, and then the Playoffs start coming around.

And it’s one of those years, it has never been this hot. Every single tournament, it was just stifling. Starting out in DC, then you go to Akron. Even the PGA was hot for all the days. It was hot in New York, Boston. It was just hot. It was just hard for me to maintain my strength and my weight through all that.

I tend to lose a lot of weight when I play. I was exhausted by the time I got to the Ryder Cup. I was worn out mentally, physically, emotionally, but thank God the Ryder Cup started on Friday so I had an extra day to get my juices flowing again.

On how his training has been different from the past:

I don’t train anywhere near like I used to. I just physically can’t do it anymore. I took a significant break after the Ryder Cup, got away from it for a bit. My training sessions have been good. I’ve been getting a little bit stronger. My core and my legs are definitely stronger than they have been… which is a positive. Now I get started working on my game and getting that organized heading into the next year. I’ve been working more on getting my body ready to handle the rigors of long practice sessions again and getting back to that. So that’s something I’m looking forward to.

On how he views the Majors:

I gave myself a chance to win both the last two major championships, and I was right there. That's ultimately what we want to happen. Now it's about trying to get everything to peak together like I did for those two weeks to do it again four more times. That’s the trick.

As you look at anyone who has ever played this game, that is the most difficult thing to do. That’s why most people haven’t won a lot of major championships, because it’s so hard to do. Fortunately, I was able to do it 14 times and hopefully more in the future.

On the prospects of winning a Major:

Some guys have had success in their 40s, Vijay being one of them. Sam Snead and Ben Hogan are the others. There’s a precedent for guys having a lot of success in their 40s and I feel I now have a chance to do something.

It’s just a matter of doing it. But to put myself back in the last two major championships with a legitimate chance to win the tournament, you know, that gives me a lot of confidence going forward, the fact that I put myself there. If I put myself there, then I know I can win it.