After the recent guessing games as to the future of Tiger Woods we finally had some early answers
1) Does he still get nervous?
It might 'only' have been a 'hit and giggle' pro-am but Tiger Woods took a sizeable step in his comeback/not comeback this week. However you might choose to play it he was still playing in front of a crowd for the first time since the 2020 Masters and, yes, there were a few nerves.
"You know what, I actually did. I haven't hit too many tee shots, and then all of a sudden the wind has come off the left and my little heel cut thing I'm seeing and all of a sudden there's people off the tee box."
2) How was his renowned touch?
Good and, at times, brilliant. There were a couple of very adjacent pitches in the pro-am and this is a part of the game which you would think wouldn't be quite as affected as the others – "I've still got the hands, I've still the feel."
3) How was his stamina?
If you're expecting this to be the forerunner to a quick return to the PGA Tour then you might want to think again. The prospect of two, maybe four, rounds back in the big time seems a distance away.
"It's going to be awhile. I couldn't walk this course even right now, and it's flat. I don't have the endurance. My leg is not quite right yet and it's going to take time. I told you in the Bahamas, I'm a long way, way from playing tournament golf. This is hit, hop in a cart and move about my business just like I would at Medalist. Being able to play tournament golf and being able to recover, practise and train and hit balls after a round and do all of the things that I need to be at a high level, I'm a long way away from that."
4) What are the chances of him requesting a cart to make his full return?
In short, not a chance.
"No. Absolutely not. Not for a PGA Tour event, no. That's just not who I am. That's not how I've always been, and if I can't play at that level, I can't play at that level. This is a different event. This is a fun event. You get guys that are in their 80s out here playing and if they didn't have carts, we wouldn't be able to see the likes of Lee Trevino and Gary Player out here. You wouldn't see a lot of some of the legends that I grew up idolising and watching, and even got a chance to play early in my career, they wouldn't be able to play in these events. Their bodies are too banged up."
5) How far off is he with his clubbing?
These are the first little baby steps of Woods' recovery and the swing reflects that. He's here to play golf with his son. But he's also a 15-time major winner, maybe the best there's ever been and he's back with a club in his hands so it's still a question worth asking.
"Unfortunately sometimes the feel doesn't really match up with the speed or the shot that I'm seeing, so that's one of the things that Joey and I were talking about. The ball is not quite flying as far as I'd like or I'm used to, and so we have to talk about some of the numbers and some of the shots and making some of those small adjustments. I just don't have the speed, it is what it is. I'll get to where the speed will start coming back up, and I can start hitting the shots that I know that I see that just aren't quite coming off."
6) What's an attainable goal for 2022?
Before we all let our minds run away with themselves and picture Tiger slipping into a sixth Green Jacket (I know, I know) then we might need to cool out jets a little. This is just the start, who knows where it might end?
"I still have a long way to go in this rehab process. I don't have the endurance to be out here to play at the Tour level. This is different. You saw it out there. I can drop a ball here, hit a few wedges. But to go out there and have 220 yards and know that you have to hit a 3- or 4-iron and miss the ball in the correct spot, and then hit certain shots and one stroke determines whether you win or lose, that's a totally different mindset than what we have out here this week. I'm not there yet."
7) How hard exactly has this year been?
There was a possibility that Tiger Woods might have lost his leg in the February car accident. We'll never really know what went on with the recovery but we got a bit of an insight into things here...
"If you would have asked me after those three months in the bed, I would be here, I would have given you a different answer. We worked every day. Even days where I didn't feel very good, we still worked on something. So every day, there was never a day off the entire other than those three months in bed, I haven't taken a day off."
8) What does he make of the similarities with his son Charlie?
He might only be 12 but he's definitely Tiger's son..
"I didn't have speed like that at that age. I was probably a little bit taller than Charlie is at that same age. I was skinny as a rail. I looked like a 1-iron. The way we move, the way we push off or -- sorry, the way he pushes off, or how I used to push off, very similar.
But that's what is neat about this event. You look at the history of the event and you look at mannerisms of the father and the child, to me, the best of all time is watching the Stadlers play. I mean, that's just the absolute best: The frustrations, the enjoyment, the club throws, everything about it, that was the best.
"Just the little quirks that we have, we don't realise that we have the quirks that we do but our kids copy them. That's what they have seen us do, and you know, this event throughout the years, you see all the different quirks that the parents have that the child has definitely picked up."
9) Why has Tiger changed his driver and ball?
In the Bahamas he was definitely using the TaylorMade SIM driver. Now he's going with the company's Stealth Plus driver which was added to the list of conforming heads in the last few days. They (TaylorMade) have moved the CG more forward so I'm able to curve the ball more, and you guys all know that I've always been a player that has worked the ball. And so, yes, it's given me the ability to hit balls and hit cuts.
"I didn't like having just only one shot. The driver set-up that we have for Augusta allowed me to draw the ball. But when I hit the cut, it was really short. I don't have that difference anymore. They are very similar, which is huge. And hey, got to love the colours."
He was also using a prototype Bridgestone ball this weekend.
10) So, how did his first round go?
There was the odd wince and a bit of limping but it really was something else. The pair of them were round in a 10-under 62, there were a handful of drives of 300+ yards, despite his self-mocking over his swing speed, and, even better, he took on more drives than we probably expected. And the putter worked, it all worked. It was great.
"Charlie and I had a blast playing together again, playing with the Thomas family, again, we're extremely close so it was a bunch of fun there, was a lot of needling going on the entire day. We're pulling pranks on each other and giving each other some under-the-breath remarks that I'm glad they didn't capture," Tiger said.
"It was just a blast and we had a blast last year on the first year it was the same. We had so much fun out there. We had one thing we wanted to do. We wanted to keep a clean card. Last year we made a bogey in each round. This year we didn't, our third straight 62 which I think is pretty good."