New Tiger, new following
Woods’ presence at the Northern Trust marks another milestone. It will be his first appearance in the FedEx Cup Playoffs since 2013. And though Woods used to breeze by such markers without much notice, this season, this Tiger, has been more grateful for where he’s gone.
“To go through what I’ve gone through … I didn’t know if I was going to play last year,” Woods said. “I didn’t know if I was ever going to play again. I was just hoping to be able to play golf with my kids and with my buddies at home. I wasn’t thinking about the tour, and now here I’m contending in major championships and had a chance to win a couple major championships.
“This has been a blessing, but man, it’s been so special to have this opportunity again.”
Woods has had back surgery four times, most recently in April 2017, and had previously questioned whether he would ever return to competitive golf. But the 42-year-old American, who is in contention to be picked for September’s Ryder Cup, says his comeback has endeared him to a new set of fans.
“I’ve struggled and I’ve had some back pain, I’ve been through four surgeries and I’m trying to work back and it’s been tough, and people understand that,” he said.
“This entire year has been so different. Go back to how everyone received me at Tampa [in the Valspar Championship in March] – that was very special.
“I hadn’t received ovations and warmth like that – I think people are more appreciative,” said Woods.
Asked about embracing the fans’ back, Woods joked;
“Unfortunately I’ve gotten to know a lot of them because I’ve hit a lot of wayward balls. I’ve signed a lot more gloves this year than I have in the past.” Nevertheless, he admitted, at times this summer, he has allowed himself to soak it in.
Woods will be back in action this week at the FedEx Cup play-offs in New Jersey and says fans can relate to his new vulnerabilities.