Tiger Woods: Body may not be in peak shape, but my mind is

Tiger Woods, fresh from his triumph at the Masters earlier this year, is eager to finish the year on a high at the Hero World Challenge in Nassau, Bahamas.

Golfer Tiger Woods and Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Hero MotoCorp, ahead of the Hero World Challenge 2019 at Albany Championship Course in the Bahamas.   -  Special Arrangement

Tiger Woods’ triumph at the Masters earlier this year has been hailed as one of the great comeback stories in the history of sport. His run at Augusta came on the back of a 10-year period where Woods - laid low by injuries and personal troubles - was reduced to a pale shadow of his imposing self.

“It was incredible to earn another green jacket. The fun part for me was that while I held a good 14-1 record when I was leading at a Major, this time I was finally able to come from behind to win. Now I know that I can get the win in different ways - from being way behind, way ahead, or not playing at my best. Hopefully, that bodes well for the future,” Woods said, on the sidelines of the Hero World Challenge here on Monday.

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Woods looked back at his maiden Masters win 1997, when he blitzed the field by 12 strokes. “I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I won in '97. The jokes and the needling I received from guys like Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen. I gave it back to them too (laughs). That was an incredible experience for me, and now I have been a part of it for so long.

“To stand here as the Masters champion - no one could have predicted that in 2016. The winner’s club is pretty exclusive - you have to earn your way into it. And there is nothing better than the Masters champions dinner. It is one of the hardest dinners to get into,” Woods said.

The 43-year-old has battled a long list of injuries - a troublesome back, in particular, has affected him a great deal in recent times. Woods has learnt how to cope with the demands of the PGA Tour while keeping his body in good shape.

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“The days of 8-hour practice sessions are long gone. I work more on chipping and wedging now. Putting has been difficult because bending is tough on my back. I have to maximise the short 30-minute practice sessions by really, really getting into that deep focus mode. My body may not be in peak shape, but my mind is. When I enter a tournament, I find a way to manage the stiffness and get the job done on the fly,” Woods said.

Given all the ups and downs he has faced during the course of his 23-year professional career, the American is happy to live in the present. “I try to enjoy every moment, whilst making plans for the future. People will look back on the past as well. That’s life. The time I have left as a professional golfer - that window is smaller than it used to be. I recognise it, and it’s not a bad thing,” Woods said.

(The writer is in Nassau on invitation from Hero MotoCorp)