Tiger Woods will favour quality over quantity in a bid to prolong his career after admitting he was emotionally and physically drained by his Masters triumph.
Woods told Jack Nicklaus “I’m done” at the Champions Dinner ahead of the 2017 Masters, but flew to London later that night to consult a specialist, subsequently underwent career-saving spinal fusion surgery and won his 15th major title at Augusta National in April.
The 43-year-old has played just 10 tournament rounds since, taking four weeks off before missing the cut in the US PGA Championship then finishing ninth in the Memorial Tournament and 21st in the US Open.
Woods went straight from Pebble Beach to Thailand on a family holiday and concedes his game is not as sharp as he would like ahead of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush, but believes he has no option but to play a limited schedule.
“Getting myself into position to win the Masters, it took a lot out of me,” said Woods, who has had four knee operations and four back surgeries during his illustrious career. That golf course puts so much stress on the system.
“Then if you look at that leaderboard after Francesco (Molinari) made the mistake at 12, it seemed like seven, eight guys had a chance to win the golf tournament with only six holes to play.
“I was reading the leaderboard all the time trying to figure out what the number is going to be, who is on what hole. And it took quite a bit out of me.
“Seeing my kids there, they got a chance to experience the Open Championship last year after their dad took the lead and then made a few mistakes. And this time they got to see me win a major championship.
“Charlie was too young to remember when I won in Akron (in 2013) and Sam was one when I won at Torrey (2008 US Open). My mom was there and she had been in ’97 for my first win.
“So it was a very emotional week and one that I keep reliving. It’s hard to believe that I pulled it off and I end up winning the tournament.”
Woods has not been helped by a change to the calendar in 2019 which saw the Players Championship move to March and the US PGA switch from August to May, meaning there is a major championship each month from April to July.
And he has learnt his lesson from 2018 when he played 19 individual events and arrived in Paris for the Ryder Cup exhausted after his victory in the Tour Championship just hours earlier.
“Last year I played a little bit too much, the body was pretty beat up,” Woods added. “After I won in Atlanta you saw what I did at the Ryder Cup.
“I was worn out and unfortunately I didn’t contribute to the team at all in points and we end up losing. A lot of it was trying to qualify for certain events, trying to get me where my world ranking would get me in some of the bigger events.
“So this year I made a conscious effort to cut back on my schedule. I want to play here as long as I possibly can and you have to understand if I play a lot, I won’t be out here that long.”
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Tiger Woods took a phlegmatic approach to missing the cut in the US PGA Championship at Bethpage.
Woods had been one of the favourites to claim a 16th major title after his emotional victory in the Masters last month, but missed the cut by a single shot following rounds of 72 and 73.
The former world number one had been unable to practice on Wednesday due to illness and had not played competitively since winning his first major for 11 years at Augusta National.
“I’m not playing the weekend. That’s disappointing,” Woods said. “Just didn’t quite have it. (But) I’m the Masters champion and 43-years-old and that’s a pretty good accomplishment.
“I’ve enjoyed being the Masters champion again, the PGA was a quick turnaround and unfortunately I just didn’t play well. I didn’t do all the little things I need to do correctly to post good scores and put myself in position to shoot good scores.”
Asked about his lack of preparation, Woods added: “It’s just the way it goes. You know, just don’t feel well and (am) just not able to do it. But resting would be better, so I would have energy to play.
“There’s no reason why I can’t get up to speed again and crank it back up. I’ve got to start feeling a little bit better first before that happens. We’ll do that first and then start cranking it back up again.
“I just wasn’t moving the way I needed to. That’s the way it goes. There’s going to be days and weeks where it’s just not going to work, and today was one of those days.”
Tiger Woods was the architect of arguably the greatest sporting comeback of all time at Augusta on Sunday, as the 43-year-old swept away years of crippling injuries and personal issues to clinch The Masters for the fifth time.
On a Sunday that just seemed meant for Tiger, there was barely a dry eye on the course after celebrating the improbable victory with his children – some two decades on from the iconic shot of him embracing his late father Earl after his first triumph.
Donald Trump, Barack Obama and Serena Williams were among those who flocked to social media and congratulated Woods on an unfathomable achievement that ended his 11-year drought between wins at a major.
It moved him onto 15 majors in total and three behind Jack Nicklaus – and matching or even surpassing the fabled mark of 18 suddenly doesn’t seem so distant.
Watch Tiger’s thoughts above at the end of an emotional four days.