Berliner TageBlatt - Stronger Tiger says he can win PGA if he can walk the walk

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Stronger Tiger says he can win PGA if he can walk the walk
Stronger Tiger says he can win PGA if he can walk the walk / Foto: © AFP

Stronger Tiger says he can win PGA if he can walk the walk

Tiger Woods, continuing his comeback 15 months after suffering severe leg injuries, says he can win this week's PGA Championship if he can take the strain of walking 72 holes.

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The 15-time major winner, who began his comeback by finishing 47th at last month's Masters, faces another test this week at Southern Hills, where he won the PGA title 15 years ago.

"I feel like I can, definitely," Woods said about winning this week. "I just have to go out there and do it. I have to do my work. Starts on Thursday and I'll be ready."

Woods, hurt in a February 2021 car crash, didn't have the stamina to finish well at Augusta, weekend 78s his worst Masters scores.

"I've gotten stronger since then. But still it's still going to be sore and walking is a challenge," Woods said. "I can hit golf balls, but the challenge is walking. It's going to be that way for the foreseeable future for sure.

"We've been working hard. I have days where it's tough and other days where we can push through it. But we keep working at it."

Woods was hospitalized for weeks and unable to walk for months and his right leg his help together with rods, pins and screws.

"There's a lot of hardware in there and there's going to be limitations to what I'm going to be able to do, but I'm going to get stronger," Woods said.

"I don't know how much that is or how much range of motion I'll ever get back. But sure is a hell of a lot better than it was 12 months ago."

Woods seeks his 73rd career US PGA title to break the all-time record he shares with Sam Snead and a 16th major to pull two shy of the record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus.

Woods said his practice routine is forever changed, forced to break up his driving, chipping and putting into segments and limit his time. He even swings in front of a mirror to avoid ball impacts.

"I've had to alter my golf swing here and there and practice sessions and I've had to do a lot of shadow swinging in front of mirrors because I'm just not able to handle impact," Woods said. "But I've gotten better and stronger since then, and will continue to improve."

Hours of practicing that produced the astonishing form of his 20s are only a memory at age 46, even with a backyard training center at his home.

"As far as practicing a lot, I don't do that anymore," Woods said. "Bending over, hitting a bunch of putts like I used to, that doesn't happen, not with my back the way it is. I have to pick my spots and do my work and get in and get out."

- 'Still have tough days' -

Woods said he felt upset right after the Masters, but has come to see his 72 holes as an endurance achievement.

"I was a little ticked I didn't putt well and felt like I was hitting it good enough and I wish I had the stamina," Woods said. "But taking a step back and looking at the overall big picture of it, it was an accomplishment."

Woods only allowed himself one day for his body to recover before he put it back into training.

"Monday. That was it," Woods said. "It was not fun. It hurt. Ice baths and just trying to get the swelling out of there. Then we went back at it, leg day on Tuesday and we kept going from there.

"Figured the first mountain you climbed was Everest. That's the steepest golf course you're going to play and that was the first one you climbed, and climbed.

"I still have tough days and things aren't going to be as easy as people might think. But I feel like I'm doing better.

"I'm having more days in which are better, more positive. Able to practice a little bit longer. So I'm able to do activities and things that I was hoping to do."

O.Lorenz--BTB