Tiger Woods: 'If I’m playing, I’m playing to win'

FILE - Tiger Woods is isn’t backing down ahead of the Genesis Invitational. Photo: David Blunsden/Action Plus/Shutterstock/BackpagePix (

FILE - Tiger Woods is isn’t backing down ahead of the Genesis Invitational. Photo: David Blunsden/Action Plus/Shutterstock/BackpagePix (

Published Feb 15, 2023


California - Tiger Woods was pretty direct when discussing his goal for the upcoming Genesis Invitational.

"If I'm playing, I'm playing to win," Woods said Tuesday during a news conference ahead of the event at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.

"I know some players have played as ambassadors to the game and trying to grow the game. I can't wrap my mind around that. I'm playing to beat the other players and get a ‘W.'"

Woods, 47, is returning to competitive golf for the first time since failing to make the cut at The Open Championship in July. All told, he played in just three tournaments last season as he continued his recovery from a serious leg injury sustained in a single-car accident the day after the 2021 Genesis Invitational was completed.

The 15-time major champion is host of the annual event through his charity foundation.

He will play his first two rounds with two of his close friends on tour, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Justin Thomas. They are scheduled to tee off at 3:04 p.m (00:04 SA Time) Thursday and 10:24 a.m. ET Friday (19:24 SA Time).

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Woods noted in November 2021 that his days as a full-time participant on the PGA Tour were over and that he'd "pick and choose" his tournaments going forward. He repeated that phrase on Tuesday, noting that his participation in this week's tournament is not a signal of a full-time return.

"Would I like to play more? Yes," Woods said. "Would (his health) allow me to?I don't know. I have to be realistic about that."

Woods, however, said his knee and leg aren't so much the issue this time around.

"As far as the recovery, it's more my ankle, whether I can recover from day today," Woods said. "The leg is better than it was last year, but it's my ankle.So being able to have it recover from day to day and meanwhile still stress it but have the recovery and also have the strength development at the same time,it's been an intricate little balance that we've had to dance."

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He also played in last season's Masters Tournament, finishing in 47th place at13 over par, and was in the field at the PGA Championship in May but with drew after three rounds.

Woods did partner with McIlroy in a made-for-television match play event in December, losing to the team of Thomas and Jordan Spieth. He also played with his son, Charlie, that same month at the PNC Championship.

Woods intended to play in the Hero World Challenge from Dec. 1-4 in The Bahamas but withdrew because of plantar fasciitis. His foundation is the host of that event as well.