Tiger Woods Took SHOTS At Greg Norman In Spicy (And Somewhat Depressing) Presser, Said He'd Never Take A Cart In Competition

The downside of Tiger Woods' withdrawal from the Hero World Challenge is that we won't get to see perhaps the greatest golfer of do what he does best. Yes, Monday's afternoon tweet-WD due to plantar fasciitis was a kick in the dick to a golf world that was hyped to watch Tiger play his first competitive rounds since July. There is, however, one small consolation: there's no chance Woods' pre-tournament presser would've been that spicy had he been in tournament mode. 

Woods has been a master of Press Conference Mad Libs for decades. He spoke to the press on auto-pilot for the first chunk of his career, and it's only since the final fusion surgery that Woods has become so open, honest and charming in his interviews. And yet still, there's a noticeable difference between Tournament Mode Tiger and Host Mode Tiger; Tournament Mode Tiger will tell you that his game and his body feels good, that he hopes his body will hold up, and that he hopes to have a chance to win come Sunday. That's typically all you get. But Host Mode Tiger can be an open book, and he was in that mode today. 


Woods cared little for pleasantries during his half-hour session alongside Dr. Pawan Munjal, the CEO of Hero who did not receive a single question. He began by addressing the plantar fasciitis in his right foot, which he said starting flaring up as he ramped up his preparation for this week. Woods also said that the injury is indeed related to all the other work he's had done to rebuild a leg that was crushed by the weight of an SUV 22 months ago. 

"It was a tough decision just because I want to play," Woods, who has not played competitively since missing the cut at The Open at St. Andrews, said. "I like playing, I like competing, but unfortunately, I can hit the golf ball and hit whatever shot you want, I just can't walk. And so I've had a few setbacks during the year that I still was able to somehow play through, but this one I just can't. Only time can heal this one and stay off my feet and get a lot of treatment done."

He said he does still plan to fulfill his other two December commitments: The Match on Dec. 10, when he and Rory McIlroy will take on Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in a 12-hole match in Tampa, and the PNC Challenge alongside his son, Charlie, on Dec. 17-18 in Orlando. 

"The Father-Son will be a very easy week, Charlie will just hit all the shots and I'll just get the putts out of the hole, so pretty easy there. But other than that, in the match we're playing in, we're flying in carts."

Speaking of carts. There's been a growing chorus of Woods' supporters clamoring for the 15-time major winner to at least consider taking a cart during competition. He'd need to apply for a special exemption to get one, as his injuries are not genetic, and it would be up to the PGA Tour to determine whether to give him one. But he has said in the past, and he repeated it stronger than ever on Tuesday, that it's not going to happen. 

"I would never do that," Woods said firmly. 

"My teammate was Casey Martin, OK, and what he did with the ADA, I voted against it," Woods said, referring to his Stanford teammate who was born with a genetic disorder and successfully sued the PGA Tour to get a cart during competition. "I think golf [sic] is an integral part of the game at our level and I will never take a golf cart until it's sanctioned. It's sanctioned on the Champions Tour and the PNC is part of that. As far as a regular event, no, I would never do that."

Given that stance—admirable or frustratingly stubborn, depending on your viewpoint—Woods knows how limited his playing future is. When asked what his hopes were for 2023, he did not paint an optimistic picture:

"The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more. That's it. I mean, that's -- physically that's all I can do. I told you that, guys, you know, the beginning of this year, too. I mean, that's -- I don't have much left in this leg, so gear up for the biggest ones and hopefully, you know, lightning catches in a bottle and I'm up there in contention with a chance to win and hopefully I remember how to do that. But again, giving myself a chance to get out there again."


And yet Woods has done anything but fade into the golfing abyss. He has remained a gigantic figure in this sport whether he's playing or not—when you're a global icon with his resume, people listen when you speak. With Woods making so few public experiences, the assembled golf media used the chance to get Woods on the record on a number of topics. That includes the Official World Golf Ranking, whose methods have come under fire this year given that the OWGR still does not award points to LIV Golf events. Surprisingly, Woods agreed that the OWGR has issues. 

"Yeah, OWGR, it's a flawed system. That's something we all here recognize. The field at Dubai got less points than Sea Island and more of the top players were there in Dubai, so obviously there's a flawed system. How do you fix it? You know, those are meetings we're going to have to have. We're going to have to have it with World Golf committee and as well as our -- the main tours that are involved in it somehow come up with a better system than is in place now. I remember in my career when I had a big lead in my career, I didn't have to play a single tournament the next year and I still would be ranked No. 1. We changed that system then. So it has been changed in the past and I'm sure this will be changed hopefully soon."

And, of course, much of the press-conference discussion centered around the topic of the year: LIV Golf, which will begin its second season in Mexico in February. Woods has been unwavering in his support for the PGA Tour and its commissioner, Jay Monahan. Woods even flew into Delaware for that clandestine players-only meeting ahead of the BMW Championship that led to systemic changes to the PGA Tour's schedule and structure. On Tuesday, he referred to the PGA Tour as "we," so his loyalties are clear. He did, however, suggest their could be a path forward for both tours to make peace in the best interest of the game—but had a pointed explanation for why that hasn't happened yet.

"Not with their leadership, not with Greg (Norman) there and his animosity towards the Tour itself. I don't see that happening. As Rory (McIlroy) said and I said it as well, I think Greg's got to leave and then we can eventually, hopefully, have a stay between the two lawsuits and figure something out. But why would you change anything if you've got a lawsuit against you? They sued us first." 

Woods' mind is fresh, and he remains committed to promoting golf by hanging around the game. On Monday evening, hours after he withdrew from the Hero, Woods announced that Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm would join him and McIlroy in The Golf League, the new tech-heavy league that'll take place inside arenas and air on Monday nights. He will continue to be a big part of golf's future—but if Monday's withdrawal and Tuesday's presser are any indication, most of Tiger's future headlines will be made with his words, not his play.