The last time we heard directly from Tiger Woods was a half-year ago, during the CBS broadcast of the Genesis Invitational, aka the L.A. Open, the venerable Tour stop at the Riviera Country Club. As it happens, Riviera is one of the few landmark Tour courses where Woods has not won.
When Tiger last spoke in public, it was on a Sunday afternoon but Woods, a month removed from his most recent back surgery, his fifth, wasn’t wearing his customary red Sunday shirt. He wears red on game-day Sundays. On this Sunday, he was a spectator and host and he was dressed in black.
On a still, sunny Los Angeles afternoon, Woods was wearing a black hat, a black or dark shirt and a black vest. He had, courtesy of CBS, a black headset on his ears, and a little black microphone suspended in front of his mouth, carefully placed to get his words out to the world. With Tiger, every word counts.
All the while, a TV camera was trained on him — on his face, and, most especially, on his eyes. He looked tired. Having a network lens pointed at you like that, capturing your every move, would be nerve-wracking for most of us, but for Woods it’s all he knows, really. Few lives have been more photographed — more documented, more public — than his.
We’re so accustomed to seeing Tiger, those of us in the slipstream of the game, that it becomes easy to forget an essential fact about him: He’s one of the most famous people in the world. Such fame comes at a cost. Fame doesn’t care if you’re a prince or a movie star or an athlete, it demands to be paid at regular intervals. As for Tiger, he’s in our lives. Did we really just go a half-year without hearing his voice, without seeing him do something live and unscripted? We did though it almost doesn’t seem possible.
Woods earned his place in our lives through the shots he played with the red light on, typically on Sundays. That gave him a certain level of wealth, a certain level of fame. But he multiplied his wealth and fame immeasurably by way of course openings, celebrity events, exhibitions, clinics, press conferences, autograph sessions, TV appearances, charity events, world travel, to say nothing of the many global advertising campaigns in which he starred.
Six months, no live Tiger. As a Tiger absence as a pro, it’s some sort of odd record. Anybody would understand why he would be desperate for a sabbatical, for a break, to get off the treadmill. But the sabbatical he got, of course, was not the one he wanted. We can only imagine the pain, the pain of every sort. We all know about his single-vehicle car crash, the one that could have taken his life. It came a day and a half after his last live public appearance, on that Sunday afternoon, at Riviera, courtesy of CBS.
Tiger Woods ‘a Fighter’ After Car Crash: ‘Being a Dad Has Helped Him Stay Focused on His Recovery’
Tiger Woods’ children have helped push him through recovery from his shocking February car accident.
A source tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue that Woods “lives for” his son Charlie, 12 and daughter Sam, 14, with his ex-wife Elin Nordegren.
“Being a dad has helped him stay focused on his recovery,” says the source. “At times, it’s been very difficult for him both physically and mentally. His leg injuries caused him extreme pain. He is a fighter and has been determined to get better though.”
Adds the source, “He has worked very hard in physical therapy. … He has had an incredible recovery.”
Earlier this week, another insider told PEOPLE that Woods’ recovery since the single-vehicle car crash on Feb. 23 has been “remarkable.”
Woods — who suffered significant orthopedic injuries to his right leg, including fractures to his tibia and fibula bones — is “feeling strong and healthy and optimistic that he’ll be able to return to tour.”
When he’ll be back on the PGA Tour is unclear, but Woods has a “timeframe in his head,” the insider said, adding “He knows when he wants to return, and he’s going to make it happen.”
Woods was spotted out supporting Charlie on the golf course over the weekend, looking on as his son — also a talented golfer — participated in a juniors’ tournament.
Golf World Reacts to Tiger Woods’ Latest Twitter Post
Every year, the Tiger Woods Invitational commences with various events planned over a few days. A perfect blend of golf and entertainment, the tournament has come a long way since its inception. Naturally, Tiger Woods’ presence is a major highlight for all those in attendance.
Unfortunately, Woods was unable to be there this year. Sidelined with his accident since February, the 15-time major winner has made few to no public appearances. Regardless, fans follow the event in numbers, supporting the Tiger Woods Foundation and their constant efforts to make the world a better place.
However, Woods did not fail to congratulate the winners despite his absence.
Twitter reacts as the Tiger Woods Invitational comes to an end
“Congrats to the winners of the 10th #TWInvitational,” the 45-year-old wrote. He tagged United States Liability Insurance (USLI), thanking the company for helping this year’s event and supporting his foundation.
Of course, Woods could not go without thanking PGA Tour icons Max Homa and Bryson DeChambeau, who attended the event. Both stars were seen having fun, also speaking to everyone at the end of Day 1. While Woods was not physically present, fans seemed to be happy to see DeChambeau and Homa at the event.
Congrats to the winners of the 10th #TWInvitational. Thank you to @USLI150 and our guests who helped support this year’s event benefitting @tgrfound, along with @b_dechambeau, @maxhoma23, and @ESPNAshley for making it so special. pic.twitter.com/6mGwIJSSw1
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) October 13, 2021
Like usual, fans were happy to see Woods interacting, appreciating him for the event organized every single year. “Congratulations to you Tiger for your continuous noble acts of kindness,” wrote one fan, thanking him for making golf an inclusive sport. “Golf thanks YOU, Mr. Woods!” wrote another, thanking him for his humility off the court.
Congrats to them. You are the true winner. We all still believe In you. We are not done watching tiger highlights. We still hope for records broken. Against all obstacles the tiger will prevail. You mess with the tiger you get the whiskers lol. Go tiger!
— Steven D (@stevend143) October 14, 2021
Congratulations to you Tiger for your continuous noble acts of kindness. It’s because of you that golf is an inclusive sport for everyone including yours truly. I am glad that everyone are afforded the greatest opportunity to indulge in this great sport. Thanks to everyone 👏🏽
— Judy Newton (@JudyNewton2021) October 14, 2021
Hope see you stay in PGA at 2022!
— thomas woo (@Thomaswu2020) October 15, 2021
hope you are recovering well
— SteezeMcQueen 🚔👌 (@SteezeMcQueen1) October 13, 2021
Another interesting point was people mistaking a man in the photo for Woods. Fans seemed to make fun of this misunderstanding, explaining that the 82-time PGA Tour winner is still back home in recovery mode.
That’s not him 😀
— TWLEGION (@TWlegion) October 14, 2021
None of those guys are @TigerWoods. If you were a real fan, you’d know this🙄
— Judy Holmes (@golfisart) October 14, 2021
— Robert Cameron (@RobbieCamCam) October 15, 2021
Is that Tiger?
— Robert Schnure (@Schnure50) October 13, 2021
That’s not Tiger dude!
— David Schneider (@dwschneider1) October 14, 2021
A little about Woods’ Invitational tournament
The invitational, which has been around for a decade, is described as ‘three days of competitive golf, incredible networking, amazing entertainment, and once-in-a-lifetime memories who work to help the youth via various programs.’ “It’s just amazing for us to have a company like USLI support us and what we’re trying to do for the next generation of kids,” Woods said in a video shared a few days ago.
USLI helps the event fundraise to a greater level, which assists the Tiger Woods Foundation in helping more people.
Tiger Woods Has Made ‘Remarkable Recovery’ After Car Crash, Source Says as He’s Spotted at Course
Tiger Woods has made a lot of progress since his single-vehicle rollover car crash in February, a source tells PEOPLE as the iconic athlete was spotted back on the golf course over the weekend.
“Tiger has made a remarkable recovery in the past few months, but it’s even more significant lately,” the source says. “It’s like every day he can do more, he can handle more, the pain is less and he’s feeling better.”
Woods, 45, “suffered significant orthopedic injuries to his right lower extremity” in the Feb. 23 accident in Southern California, according to Anish Mahajan, MD, chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, who released a statement on Woods’ Twitter page the day after the crash.
More specifically, Mahajan said Woods suffered “comminuted open fractures,” meaning his tibia and fibula bones had shattered and broken through the skin, requiring immediate surgery, along with smaller injuries to the ankle and foot.
Woods has been doing physical therapy, the source tells PEOPLE, and has been pushing himself to work up to his body’s limits.
“He says that the pain is very manageable now,” explains the insider. “For the first couple months, he’d just be sitting at home with his leg up, and it would be throbbing and he’d be in so much pain. Now he still has pain, but it’s nothing like what he dealt with before. He’s feeling strong and healthy and optimistic that he’ll be able to return to tour.”
When he’ll be back on the PGA Tour is unclear, though — but Woods is no stranger to comebacks, winning the 2019 Masters which was his first major victory in over a decade.
“He’s got a timeframe in his head, but he’s not really putting that out there; he knows when he wants to return, and he’s going to make it happen,” says the source. “He says even if he’s not at 100%, he knows how important it is to get back out there and compete. That’s his goal.”
No matter what, Woods is in “really great spirits, feeling really good about his recovery.”
Reps for Woods did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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Over the weekend, Woods was spotted on a Florida golf course, watching as his son Charlie, 12, competed in a junior tournament. His girlfriend Erica Herman appeared to be by his side.
During the February accident, Woods’ car struck a sign in the center divider, cut through a tree and landed alongside the road. According to the documents previously obtained by CNN, Woods told police following the crash that he had no recollection of driving or how the accident happened.
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In April, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that speed was the primary cause of Woods’ crash. The sheriff also said that there were “no signs of impairment,” and that Woods would receive no citations for the accident.
Earlier this year, in his first interview since the accident, Woods told Golf Digest that he was focused on being able to begin moving on his own again with the help of physical therapy.
“I do my routines every day and am focused on my No. 1 goal right now: walking on my own. Taking it one step at a time,” he told the outlet at the time, at that point declining to answer when asked if he would be able to play golf again.