Tiger Woods has worked his way through aching legs and a double ghost disaster to take the PGA Championship chop, hungry to make the most of his few playing opportunities.
The 15-time main winner, who suffers serious leg injuries sustained in a car crash in February 2021, fired a one-shot sub-69 on Friday to reach the weekend on three-over 143 in Southern Hills.
“Coming back here to a place where you’ve been successful, and playing against the best players in the world, that’s what we all want to be able to do,” Woods said. “Fortunately, I am able to do that somehow.”
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Woods won the 2007 PGA Award at the same course, setting an 18-hole record with 63 in the process.
But Woods spent weeks in hospital and months unable to walk before starting rehab that enabled him to return after 14 months on the Masters last month, where he finished 47th and was happy to be able to walk 18 holes.
“I had a great physical therapy crew put Humpty Dumpty back together, and we’re going there tomorrow,” Woods said.
Such opportunities will be rare for Woods in the future.
“I won’t play many tournaments in the future. It will be the biggest tournaments. I want to be able to play the major tournaments. I’ve always loved playing in them.”
Woods said his right leg, clamped with rods and bolts, felt better than it did on Thursday when he shot the 74. When asked to put it on a scale from 1 to 10, he said, “All of it.”
After a double bogey at 11 that put him above the cut-off line at 144, Woods skipped the par-5 13 and par-4 16 to safely get to the weekend, but he also fired a 15- to 3-foot bulwark and kept it on par there.
“I had to fight back, which I was able to do,” Woods said. “At 15, that was a delicious little bunker shot. I didn’t like to put myself out there, but I loved executing the shot.”
Woods declared he still had a chance of winning, even as the weekend drew 12 blows off his pace.
“You can’t win the championship if you miss the cuts,” he said. “There’s a reason you should fight hard and be able to give yourself a shot at the weekend. You never know when you might get hot.
“This weekend I’m going to have to dip. I have to do a few things physically to get myself there tomorrow and it’s going to be a quick turnaround.
“Hopefully I can post a good run and at least move up, and get myself within walking distance on Sunday. I’m back so far, but you never know.”
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