Tiger Woods circa 2018 has already exhibited one giant difference from the legend who returned at last year’s Farmers Insurance Open: the Big Cat actually played a Torrey Pines practice round.
The Forecaddie should have known last year when Woods didn’t appear until Wednesday’s pro-am that the 14-time major winner was not firing on all cylinders. Fast forward to today and the fused-back, seven-time champion of this event looked relaxed and like his old self touring the South Course back nine with Jason Day and Bryson DeChambeau.
There was the vintage Woods move to start a mile from the range at the 10th hole, causing the writers, Tweeters and other onlookers to get the heart rate up earlier than planned.
Considering it was a brisk 45 degrees at 7:20 a.m. when Woods teed off, the 43-year-old looked limber and more than held his own distance-wise with the younger peers, including a beefier-looking DeChambeau, who knocked a few past his compadres.
Speaking of beef, Woods appears to have dialed down the amino diet overload that had him looking like the Michelin Man last time we saw him. Instead, he’s slimmed just the right amount and looks refreshed. There is, however, the new, slightly hobbled Woods walk that TMOF and fans will have to get used to. Woods just doesn’t gobble up ground like he used to. A fusion will do that to you. But as far as the back, he’s lashing away free of pain, bending without hesitation to pick up his ball and even unnecessarily hitting shots out of Torrey’s juiced-up rough. Situation normal stuff for a Tuesday.
“I’m hitting a lot of golf balls and building up my endurance. You have to do it. You have to beat balls for a little bit of time to build up your endurance and muscles,” Woods said, according to USA TODAY Sports. “I feel like I’ve done that and now it’s time to play a tournament.”
As all of the Team Woods walked with him — agent Mark Steinberg, spokesman Glenn Greenspan, TGR executive Rob McNamara and officials from TaylorMade and Nike. Woods appeared to enjoy the company of Day and DeChambeau. He wisely allowed two of the game’s biggest searchers to break off into some oddball conversations about technique and fitness.
“But how do you get it to palpitate?” Day asked DeChambeau as Woods was blissfully practicing putts, oblivious to the wacky banter.
Woods departed following the nine-hole round. He will meet the media after Wednesday’s 6:40 a.m. tee time. He was off to TaylorMade for some testing and meetings, though judging by a new Monster Energy bag full of some pretty shiny Taylor Made irons and woods, TMOF doesn’t expect Woods to be surprising us with all new bling for the pro-am.
Woods will tee off at 10:40 a.m. Thursday on the South Course with Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.