September 22, 2017

Tiger’s Blog: Presidents Cup Preview and More

Hi everyone. Before giving you an update, I want to express my sympathy and concern for all who have been affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the earthquake in Mexico. Many lives have been lost, families disrupted and displaced, and I want to send my sincere condolences. I want to thank all the first responders and volunteers who continue to provide assistance to those in need during these difficult times.

I think everyone on the PGA Tour has a connection to someone in one of the geographic areas that got hit. I designed a golf course outside of Houston (Bluejack National) and have friends in the area, as well as throughout Florida and up into Georgia and South Carolina. The damage to their homes, power outages and debris has been staggering. Stay strong. We are all behind you.

As I wrote earlier this summer, I had a few matters to work on with my doctors and I did that.  I’m feeling good, strong and doing really well.  About my most recent surgery, it’s nice not to live in pain anymore. I’m sleeping better because I don’t have any nerve pain going down my leg. It makes a world of difference.

I’m starting to hit the ball a little further – 60-yard shots. I have not taken a full swing since my back fusion surgery last April, but continue to chip and putt every day.

The latter is paying off. Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler have been dropping by my house for putting contests. Justin also comes over to practice his chipping. It was fun to celebrate his PGA Championship win with him and Rickie, and we had a blast.

I have my six-month back X-rays coming up. Once my surgeon takes a look, he’ll give me the parameters of what I can do moving forward.

I’m working out six days a week, alternating between the treadmill, bike riding, swimming and lifting twice a day. My muscle tone is coming back, but I’m not in golf shape yet. That’s going to take time.

Playing wise, I’m not looking ahead yet because I don’t know what kind of swing I’m going to use. I just don’t know what my body is going to allow me to do. Until I do, I’m going to listen to my doctors and continue to take it slowly.

I am fired up for the Presidents Cup next week. It will be great to be around the guys and try to help our team any way I can to win. I had a blast doing it last year at the Ryder Cup and we have another great captain in Steve Stricker. We tried to keep the band together with Jim Furyk, Davis Love III and myself, and added Fred Couples, to maintain consistency and unity.

We have a young team and quite a few first-timers. But they’re solid guys and have played well all year. My biggest responsibility is to do whatever the captain asks me to do.

There is a big difference between assisting with the Presidents Cup versus the Ryder Cup. I think it may be more difficult because there are more pairings going out. You have to find more teams and there are different rules. For instance, if you played Thursday and Friday, you could sit out Saturday. Before, you had to play every day.  Also, I’ve never been through selecting pairings and we have a time limit. I’m trying to understand that.

As for a team theme, it’s too early because a lot of these guys are playing for $10 million in the FedExCup. You don’t want to bombard them with information. They’re a little bit tired and beat up. I know that Stricks has done a couple dinners with the guys and some played a practice round at Liberty National. We’re just trying to keep it to a minimum but also keep them informed.

My biggest takeaway from the Ryder Cup last year was that as a player, it’s very simple: all you have to do is get ready to play fourball and foursomes, and know who you might play with. That’s it. As an assistant captain, you’re in charge of the wives, girlfriends, families, caddies and individuals that support the golfers. It’s a lot more organizational work than I was used to as a player.

I have watched some of the FedExCup Playoffs, and I think they’re working. They’re trying to capture excitement and that’s great. It seems like the guys are playing well, but if you read between the lines of their interviews, it sounds like they are pretty tired.

My TGR Design golf courses are coming along nicely. Last month I made a site visit to Payne’s Valley, our first public golf course design in the U.S, with my son, Charlie and our team.  Grassing just began on the first nine holes, so we’re making good progress. Charlie and I also did some bass fishing in the nearby lakes and it was awesome. I want to thank Johnny Morris for selecting us to design this course and for a fun and productive visit.

We recently visited Jack’s Bay, our newest project located in South Eleuthera,  Bahamas. Construction has just begun on “The Playgrounds”, a 10-hole short course ideal for families, kids and beginners.  This is the third short course I have designed and I feel they are hugely important for the growth of golf.  Jack’s Bay is on such a great piece of land and it’s pretty special to have such phenomenal views of the Atlantic Ocean from every hole.

Things are also progressing in Chicago (South Shore & Jackson Park Golf Course Restoration), Dubai (Trump World Golf Club Dubai), and Cabo (Diamante Cabo San Lucas). We’re excited about all our projects.

My foundation has two important tournaments coming up: the Tiger Woods Invitational presented by USLI next month at Pebble Beach, California, and the Hero World Challenge, Nov. 27-Dec. 3 at Albany, Bahamas. I want to thank Tom Nerny at USLI and Pawan Munjal at Hero for their friendship and on-going support.

Thanks to all of our sponsors for your continued loyalty and help. You allow us to make a tremendous impact on the lives of underserved youth, and we couldn’t do it without you.

Congratulations to Billy Payne, the outgoing Chairman at Augusta National Golf Club. He expanded the positive role of the Club and Tournament in golf in many ways, and maintained the goals of past Chairmen including Mr. Roberts and co-founder Bobby Jones.

All of the players are looking forward to becoming better acquainted with his successor, Fred Ridley. He’s an accomplished player and I look for him to be more instrumental on the golf course side of things and how it plays.

A shout-out to Juli Inkster and the U.S. Solheim Cup team for playing so well. I got to know Inky at Stanford when I was in college because she would practice there a lot. I have followed her career and she’s been incredibly successful, so it’s pretty neat to watch. She can still play and is one of the most competitive people I have ever met.

I’d also like to congratulate Maverick McNealy and our U.S. Walker Cup Team. He went 4-0 to help us win, and another ex-Stanford standout, David Boote of England, played for the European Team. Both have turned pro and I wish them all the best.

The first year is the most difficult because you are at a tremendous disadvantage unless they go to a new golf course. If not, you’re behind the eight ball learning the course. Not only have most of the guys seen it, they’ve seen it under different conditions, which is a tremendous help. They also know where to eat and stay.

While I’m handing out compliments, how about Rafael Nadal winning the U.S. Open for his 16th Grand Slam title? We text all the time and I took my kids to New York to watch him play. I basically tried to stay out of his way and gave him space. I tried to explain to my kids how hard he played on each and every point. I think they finally understood after watching him. He never gives up on a point and never throws one away. He plays all out. I truly admire what he does.

One cool thing I did was watch the eclipse in Tennessee with my kids. It was pretty neat to see the darkness coming and then how everything went quiet. No birds chirping, no noise whatsoever. As it left, you could hear nature wake-up again.

I’m very excited about the 2-0 start by the Raiders. All we have to do is keep Derek Carr upright and we’ve got a great chance. Last year, we were one of the favorites going into the playoffs if Derek hadn’t broken his leg. Our entire team is pretty talented. We can beat you different ways, but it’s just a matter of staying healthy.

One thing I’d like to do is recognize my sponsors. They’ve been amazing and I really appreciate them standing by me. No matter what, their support hasn’t waned a bit.

Finally, thanks to my fans for your patience and encouragement. The last two years have been challenging and I have gone through a great deal. But you have always been there for me and I can’t thank you enough.

Take care.