There is an air of expectation in the lead-up to the Hero World Challenge here. The chance to see Tiger Woods in action at Albany adds considerable heft to the tournament, which tees off here on Thursday.
This will be Woods’ first appearance in a professional event since he withdrew in the third round of the Masters in April. A couple of weeks later, he underwent subtalar fusion surgery on his right ankle.
Due to long periods of inactivity, Woods’ world ranking has fallen to 1328. He received a sponsor exemption for this 20-man field.
Speaking at a press conference here on Tuesday, Woods stated that he is pain-free. The American superstar, however, is curious to see if he can go the distance.
“My game feels rusty. I haven’t played in a while. I’m excited to compete and play. I do not have any of the ankle pain, that I had in Augusta. In that regard, the surgery was a success. The other parts of my body has taken the load though; there is some soreness,” Woods, 47, said.
“I had to get my ankle either replaced or fused. We chose fusion. The next six months of doing nothing - that’s the hard part. The first couple of months were rough. Now I’m just as curious as you all to see what happens next,” Wood said.
The famous competitive spirit still burns bright inside the 15-time Major winner.
“I love competing. I love playing. I miss being out here with the guys... the banter, the camaraderie. There will come a point in time - I haven’t come around to it fully yet - where I won’t be able to win again. When it comes, I will walk away,” Woods said.
In August, Woods took on an administrative role when he joined the PGA Tour Policy Board. Woods is keen to be the voice of the players in response to the PGA Tour’s proposed deal with LIV Golf.
Woods explained that the proposed deal took him by surprise. “I was surprised. A lot of players were taken back. It happened so quickly. There was frustration that the players were not involved in the decision-making process. This is our tour, and we were taken aback. That cannot happen again,” Wood said.
Hero MotoCorp Executive Chairman Pawan Munjal announced that the total prize purse for the Hero World Challenge has been increased from $3.5 million to $4.5 million.
(The writer is in Nassau, Bahamas on invitation from Hero MotoCorp)
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