Tiger Woods Feeling Stronger But Not Swinging Clubs Yet

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is feeling strong, has a sense of humor and still doesn’t have a swing coach. Those were the major takeaways from Woods’ Monday press conference to promote the Hero World Challenge, Woods’ annual event that has a field of 18 of the best players in the world and benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.

The tournament will be played Dec. 4-7 at Isleworth Golf & Country Club and Woods spent some time Monday talking about the event and its new title sponsor. Defending champion Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel are expected to be among the players in the field, but with the start of the event still nearly three months away, the more interesting topics were Woods’ health and coaching situation.

Woods lost a majority of his season to back surgery which he had at the end of March. He missed the Masters and the U.S. Open, missed the cut at the PGA Championship and didn’t qualify for the FedEX Cup playoffs. He hasn’t played since the PGA Championship and won’t be at the Ryder Cup, so he will come into his event lacking tournament play and will undoubtedly be rusty but apparently in shape.

“Well, golf‑wise, nothing. I haven’t swung a golf club yet,” Woods said. “I’ve just been shadow swinging without a club, but I’ve been busting my butt in the gym pretty hard. I’ve got my strength back, which is nice. Now the next goal is to get my explosiveness and my fast twitch going, and that’s the next phase of my training.”

Woods’ training is also expected to have him swinging a club by early October which would give him nearly two months to prepare for the World Challenge.

Whether or not Woods’ training and preparation for the World Challenge and the 2015 PGA Tour season includes a coach remains to be seen. He decided to split with Sean Foley last month and has not made any moves to replace Foley, with whom he worked for four seasons.

“Am I looking for a new coach? As of right now, no, I’m not. Right now I’m just trying to get physically better, stronger, faster, more explosive,” Woods said. “I’m in no hurry to look for one right now. As I said, I’m just focused on what I’m doing.”

Even in his absence Woods remains one of golf’s biggest stories so when Rory McIlroy was asked about Woods and Phil Mickelson missing the Tour Championship, his “they are on the back nine of their careers” comment created some buzz in the golf world and on social media. No doubt Woods will file that one away for future motivation, but at least for now he took the comment, which McIlroy did not deliver mean spiritedly, in stride.

“I thought it was funny. I mean, Phil has less holes to play than I do, though. What is he, five years older than me or four? Five. Yeah, so yeah, it’s a reality, you know? We’re all older,” Woods said. “I’m nearing my 20th season on tour here coming up pretty soon. I’ve been out here for a while, and Phil has been out here for a while. Phil has made every single Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team since, I think, what, ’95. Pretty remarkable. But yeah, it’s just part of the aging process.”

author avatar
John Nestor
John Nestor is a Philadelphia sports fan and veteran sportswriter trapped in Connecticut. Tweet him @nestorjdn