One day, Tiger Woods is going to retire from professional golf -- or, at least, from competing on the PGA Tour and on the biggest major championship stages.
Woods has a very clear idea of when he's going to retire, and it's a stance from which he has never publicly wavered. He reiterated his position on Tuesday ahead of the 2023 Hero World Challenge, which marks his first start since withdrawing from the 2023 Masters in April and then having ankle surgery.
"I love competing, I love playing. I miss being out here with the guys, I miss the camaraderie and the fraternity-like atmosphere out here and the overall banter," Woods said.
"But what drives me is I love to compete. There will come a point in time, I haven't come around to it fully yet, that I won't be able to win again. When that day comes, I'll walk," Woods added, before making light of his current health. "Well, now I can walk. I won't say run away, but I'm going to walk away."
What "walking away" looks like for Woods is potentially different than what most people would term retirement. The reality is that the greats of the game never truly retire. There is the PGA Tour Champions, which is reserved for players aged 50 and older, as another potential mountain for Woods to climb if he feels his PGA Tour days are done. Friend Stewart Cink has said he believes Woods will play and dominate on the elder circuit, and Woods' good friend, Steve Stricker, has been dominant in his limited PGA Tour Champions schedule.
Woods will also never lose status at three of the four majors. Masters winners are invited, effectively, for life, and Woods' career is synonymous with Augusta National success. As an Open Championship winner, he's invited until he's 60. He can play in the PGA Championship as long as he wants. And while his exemption into the US Open ends in 2024, and there is no lifetime exemption, Woods will almost certainly have a standing invite there, too.
While Woods has said he won't compete if he doesn't think he can win -- and he affirmed this week that he still thinks he can win -- on the PGA Tour, Woods has embraced a statesman role in golf that might suggest he would be willing to compete sometimes in something closer to a ceremonial role.