Tiger Woods makes shock declaration he can play every month in 2024

Tiger Woods of the United States speaks to the media during his media conference prior to the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course on November 28, 2023, in Nassau
Tiger Woods has said it is 'realistic' that he can play a tournament once a month next year - Getty Images/David Cannon

Tiger Woods has thrilled the sport he has bestrode like no other by declaring it is “realistic” that he can play a tournament every month next year.

The 47-year-old is set to appear in Thursday’s first round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, his first competitive outing since withdrawing during the third round of The Masters in April.

Countless golfing obits were written when he limped out of Augusta – and, indeed, a fortnight later when he underwent another operation on the right leg that he almost lost in a car crash just under three years ago.

At that stage, any optimism seemed to extend only as far as Woods being able to tee it up in the occasional major. But in his first press conference since he was sidelined, Woods delivered a prognosis that stunned the game in its positivity.

“I can tell you this, I don’t have any of the pain that I had at Augusta in my ankle,” he said, revealing that his joint has been fused. “Yeah other parts are taking the brunt of the load so I’m a little more sore in other areas, but the ankle’s good. So that surgery was a success.

Tiger Woods reacts to his shot on the 11th hole during the third round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2022, in Augusta, Georgia
Woods visibly struggled before his withdrawal at this year's Masters tournament - Getty Images/Gregory Shamus

“I think the best scenario would be maybe to play a tournament a month – I think that’s realistic.

“You would have to start with maybe at the Genesis [Invitational in February] and something in March near The Players. We have [it] set up [in the schedule] right now that the biggest events are one per month. Now, I need to get myself ready for all that. I think this week is a big step in that direction.”

‘When I can’t win, that’s when I’ll walk away’

To put his aim in perspective, Woods has played in just five events since smashing up his vehicle and his body in February 2021 – and only completed three of those. He is obviously, as he put it, “rusty” and does not even have a caddie lined up for 2024, with friend and business partner Rob McNamara fulfilling this week’s bagman duties.

Joe LaCava, who was with Woods when he won the 2019 Masters, is now working for Patrick Cantlay and Woods joked that 14-year-old son Charley “won’t be able to play hooky [miss school] that often”. But he is determined to fulfil his long-held promise that he will never be out there purely in a ceremonial role.

“Absolutely,” Woods said, when asked if he believes he can still win. “What drives me is I love to compete. There will come a point in time – and I dont think I’m there yet – when I won’t be able to win again. When that day comes, I’ll walk.”

Another fairy-tale comeback is not his only mission. Woods had yet to comment on the bombshell announcement in June that the PGA Tour had signed “a framework agreement” with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund – which bankrolls the LIV Golf League – and was uncharacteristically candid in his assessment.

“Like, I’m sure a lot of the players, I was taken aback by what had happened and so quickly and without any input or any kind of information about it – it was just thrown out there,” said Woods. “We were very frustrated with what happened and we took steps going forward to ensure player involvement… we were not going to be left out of the process like we were.”

Jay Monahan, the beleaguered PGA Tour commissioner, must have been twitching in his seat. Several players have called for his resignation, but for now, Woods – who could force him out of Sawgrass HQ in a sentence – has granted him a stay.

“Jay understands what happened can’t happen again and won’t happen again,” Woods said.

“We control the board and we control what we’re going to do. We’re not going to have what transpired in a few months without our involvement again.”

In August, Woods was co-opted onto the Tour’s policy board as Monahan bowed to locker-room pressure by handing the golfers the numerical supremacy around the table. There is a six-five split between the pros and the executives, meaning that it will be the men in spikes and not blazers who will have the final say if and when a deal is reached.

However, Woods made it clear that he is playing an active role in the negotiations. It is believed that he and his team want to bring in US investors to ensure that the Saudi influence is, at the very least, limited, but on Tuesday he left every avenue open, including even the LIV Golf League co-existing with the PGA Tour and the rebels being allowed back on Tour.

“As far as that pathway [back], we’re still working on that,” he said. “There’s so many different scenarios. That’s why I said there’s a lot of sleepless hours trying to figure that out… All the parties are talking and we’re aggressively working on trying to get a deal done… Everyone involved wants a return, that’s just part of doing deals, but we have to protect the integrity of our tour and what it stands for going forward.”

Woods is plainly a busy individual at the moment. And perhaps too busy to take on the Ryder Cup captaincy in 2025. In the wake of America’s comprehensive defeat in Rome last month, Woods was widely tipped to pick up the reins from the hapless Zach Johnson.

However, with the PGA of America keen to unveil their skipper for the match in New York in January, Woods all but ruled himself out as far as that timeline is concerned. “Right now there’s too much at stake with our tour to think about a Ryder Cup,” he said. “We have to get this done. The players and everyone involved understands that this is the issue we need to focus on.”