Tulsa, Oklahoma: Tiger Woods’s comeback after nearly losing his leg in a car crash continues at the PGA Championship this week and the 46-year-old believes he is capable of hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy for a fifth time.
Very few athletes, especially ones returning from career-threatening injuries, can get away with such bravado, but Woods, as he has proven time and again, is no ordinary athlete.
Woods has long maintained he would never enter an event he did not feel he could win.
The 15-time major winner made the same assessment of his chances last month ahead of the Masters.
At that moment, however, it seemed barely credible, coming from someone who just 14 months earlier was laying in a hospital bed with doctors contemplating the amputation of his mangled leg.
An inspired Woods sent a jolt through the sporting world when he made the cut at Augusta National before running out of steam, closing with six-over 78s on Saturday and Sunday, his worst-ever scores at the Masters.
Back at Southern Hills where he won the 2007 PGA Championship, Woods says he is stronger, better prepared and now the only thing left is to “just go out there and do it”.
“I feel like I can (win) definitely,” Woods told reporters on Tuesday. “I have to do my work.
“I’ve gotten stronger since then (the Masters).
“But it’s still going to be sore and walking is a challenge. I can hit golf balls, but the challenge is walking.”
Living by the motto “no pain, no gain”, Woods took one day off following the Masters and over the five weeks leading up to the PGA Championship has continually increased his workload.
“He’s Tiger,” summed up world number two Jon Rahm. “He’s a competitor. He’s going to try to win every single time, and anytime he tees up, the world wants him to win.”
Whether Woods can win is open to debate but he, like everyone else, will be looking for signs of progress in the five weeks since the Masters, particularly in his endurance and putting, which he feels kept him from contending for another Green Jacket.
“I didn’t have the endurance that I wanted, I shouldn’t expect it (to win) because I didn’t earn it,” said Woods. “I hadn’t done the work.
“As the months pass and it’s going to get better.
“I feel like I’m doing better.
“Taking a step back and looking at the overall big picture of it, it (Masters) was an accomplishment.
“But that other side of me says if I would have done things differently, I could have challenged for that thing (Green Jacket).”