Tiger Woods may have won the 2018 Tour Championship to conclude the 2017-18 PGA Tour season and notch his 80th-career PGA Tour win. However, Woods was running on fumes by the time he got to East Lake.
Woods played seven times in nine weeks to conclude his season, including close calls at the British Open and PGA Championship, one final appearance at Firestone Country Club in the last WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as well all four FedEx Cup events, then the Ryder Cup. It was a lot of golf for a 42-year-old guy who began the year with as many questions as anyone else about his future in the pro game and the viability of his latest comeback from spinal fusion.
Now in his final 2018 start at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2019 schedule has a lot of holes in it by design. With a realignment of the golf calendar, moving The Players back to March and the PGA Championship into May and shortening the PGA Tour season to end before Labor Day, Woods and other top players face a more concentrated run of high-stakes events.
The schedule changes leave Woods uncertain of anything beyond five tournaments.
“The only thing set in stone after this is that I’m playing Genesis [in Los Angeles from Feb. 14-17] and the four majors,” Woods said Tuesday in the Bahamas ahead of the Hero World Challenge. “Other than that, we’re still taking a look at what is too much. Seven of the last nine to end my season was too much.”
Woods said the summer heat took a toll in his body in many of his rounds down the stretch of the season.
“I was exhausted by the time I got to the Ryder Cup,” Woods said. “Every single tournament, it was just stifling. Hot in D.C., and Akron. Hot at the PGA for all the days. Hot in New York, Boston. It was hard for me to maintain my strength and weight through all that. I was worn out mentally, physically and emotionally.”
The 14-time major winner and current world No. 13 said he’s still struggling to maintain and pick up weight. Woods had gained back the weight he lost in that final nine-week run, but he lost it again when fell ill the weekend prior to his Las Vegas pay-per-view match against Phil Mickelson.
The paradox of choice
Woods can climb to sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win this week, but no matter what, he has already qualified for all three remaining WGCs this year. He was only eligible for one last season. Will he skip those in favor of rest? He’ll have to pick his spots in favor of peak performance, not trying to make Tour sponsors happy. Woods, who said he isn’t looking to play back-to-back weeks if he can avoid it, may have to drop The Honda Classic or Arnold Palmer Invitational from his March run to accommodate The Players and keep his body fresh. Maybe he skips one or both of the closely scheduled WGCs, with the Mexico tournament set ahead of the Florida Swing and the Match Play being a potential long grind leading into the Masters.
Part of Woods’ schedule will depend on his fitness and health. Woods knows the benefits of rest to his game — his pacing has been key to his career success — but with the upheaval of the once-established cadence of the schedule, he’ll have to hit the Reset button to perform his best from start to finish.
“At the end of the season, it was a different deal,” Woods said. “I felt like I could never rest and I was always chasing being prepared, because my whole year wasn’t planned out. I have to be in better shape than I was last year to be able to handle the condensed schedule. Now, it’s about managing and making sure I’m fresh, because I know I can win tournaments again.”