Woods “got a little more rust off…will keep ‘promise’ to play once a month”

“Got a little more rust off. It’s getting better every day.”

Golf great Tiger Woods (USA) is feeling healthier than ever as he heads into the PNC Championships, a family event he competes in with his son Charlie, 14. At the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas earlier this month, he said, “My ankle doesn’t hurt anymore. Playing once a month next year is a realistic goal,” he said at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas earlier this month.

Woods carded eight birdies and no bogeys for an 8-under 64 in the first round of the tournament on Sunday at The Ritz-Carlton GC (Par 72, 7106 yards) in Orlando, Florida, USA, and is tied for 11th with Steve Stricker, Nelly Korda and Justin Thomas (USA). In the scrambled first round, Matt Kucher (USA) shot a 15-under-par 57 to take a three-stroke lead.

Woods, who played his first round with his son Charlie, who moved up a tee box from last year due to his improved driving distance, and daughter Sam, 16, who caddied for him for the first time this year, said, “It’s a very special experience to be on the course with them.”

Woods did not use a golf cart to get around the course in the Pro-Am the day before. “I don’t worry about my legs. Walking is better for my back,” said a confident Woods in his post-match interview. “My goal this week is to knock a little bit more rust off my game, which has been a little dull. Just like in the Bahamas, I’ve been getting better every day this week.” When asked if his plans for next year have not changed, he confidently replied, “That’s what I’m playing for.”

Since withdrawing after the third round of the Masters Tournament in April and having surgery on his right ankle, which was injured in a car accident two years ago, Woods has made a remarkable recovery, shooting his second straight under-par round in three years at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

Asked about the merger discussions with LIV Golf, Woods, who is a PGA Tour policymaker, said: “We have until May 31 to negotiate with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund (PIF). Talks with other investment firms are ongoing,” he said, reaffirming the principle. Asked to confirm the rumored parting of ways with Nike after 27 years of sponsorship, Woods dodged the question, emphasizing twice that “I’m still wearing their products.”

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