PGA Championship - Preview Day 1
Credit: PGA of America via Getty Images

More than once Tiger Woods has made the climb back to the top of the game of golf.

In 2008, he won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines quite literally on one leg as it was revealed after his victory that he had two stress fractures and a torn ACL in his left leg.

In 2019, he won the Masters Tournament for an improbable 15th major title after undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

And, in 2022, he made his first competitive start on the PGA Tour in more than a year at the Masters Tournament after surviving a rollover car accident in which he suffered multiple leg injuries and nearly saw his right leg amputated.

PGA Championship - Final Round
Southern Hills will look and play drastically different than it did when Tiger Woods won the 89th PGA Championship at the course in August, 2007. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America via Getty Images)
Credit: Montana Pritchard/PGA of America/PGA

Tuesday at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club, Woods met with the media as he prepared to make his first start since the Masters Tournament, in which he equated the experience to climbing the world’s highest peak.

“Figured the first mountain you climbed was Everest,” Woods said about walking Augusta National Golf Club, which is known for its undulating terrain. “That's the steepest golf course you're going to play and that was the first one you climbed it, and climbed. It's going to get flatter and better.”

If completing 72 holes at Augusta National Golf Club was the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, then Southern Hills would have to be K2 - the world’s second highest peak, while slightly smaller than Everest, still presents a formidable test of both endurance and skill in order to reach the summit.

PGA Championship - Preview Day 2
Tiger Woods practices on the range during 2022 PGA Championship week at Southern Hills Country Club. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Credit: Getty Images

But for any great mountaineer, or in this case golfer, there is extensive preparation involved in preparing both physically and mentally for the challenges that lie ahead and Woods has done both.

It’s been six weeks since Woods last competed and he says he’s physically much stronger than he was during the season’s first major championship. As much as his putting waned on the weekend, he recorded four three-putts and a four-putt during the third round, it was fatigue that Woods says got the better of him at Augusta and he was determined to not let that be a factor at Southern Hills.

“I've put in a lot of hard work with my team, and I believe in them and what they have been able to get me to do. I just have to go out there and obviously do it and hit the golf shots,” Woods said about his preparation for the PGA Championship. “I've had to alter my golf swing here and there and practice sessions and work on things, and I've had to do a lot of shadow swinging in front of mirrors because I'm just not able to handle impact, but I've gotten better and stronger since then, and will continue to improve.”

Outside of the physical obstacles Woods will need to overcome to scale Southern Hills, the course itself has changed quite a bit since his victory there in 2007.

READ MORE: Behind the Scenes of Gil Hanse's Historic Restoration of Southern Hills

Beginning in 2018, Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner oversaw a historic restoration of the course. In doing so, around 300 trees were removed from the property along with nearly all the rough. The short grass was restored, the creeks were reopened, and the game was modernized to challenge the greatest golfers of today. Woods applauded the work done by Hanse and his team, saying “the game has changed a lot and because the game has changed a lot, Gil has done a fantastic job of altering the golf course.”

Gil Hanse overseeing work during his 2018 to 2019 historic restoration of Southern Hills Country Club

Woods is anxious to take on the new test that is Southern Hills. The course is far more open and for creative players like Woods, is a playground of opportunity. The course demands a wider variety of shots, especially after the edges of the greens were removed by Hanse and his team during the restoration. Woods says he watched as golf balls rolled off the putting surfaces during the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in 2021.

“It's going to be hard. It's going to be fair,” Woods said about how he expects the course to play this weekend. “And then the forecast is going to be different every day in this wind. It's supposed to be all different directions. We're going to see a different golf course almost every day.”

At the Masters Tournament, Woods was asked if he thought he had a chance that week to win. He did. Woods says he reminded himself, as he climbed Augusta National Golf Club, that he knew he had what it takes to win even on a broken leg. He’d done it before.

This week, as Woods prepares to summit his second peak of the season at the PGA Championship, he’ll do so knowing he has made the climb back to the top of the golf world more than once in his career. And, even the loftiest of goals - the chance to capture a fifth PGA Championship and 16th major victory - Woods believes is still within his reach.

“I feel like I can, definitely,” Woods said when asked if he thought he had a chance to win at Southern Hills. “I just have to go out there and do it. I have to do my work. Starts on Thursday and I'll be ready.”

PGA Championship - Preview Day 2
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - MAY 17: Tiger Woods of the United States warms up on the range during a practice round prior to the start of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club on May 17, 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Credit: Getty Images

Latest News