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Tiger Woods Talks Foot Injury, Capital One's 'The Match 7' with Rory, Spieth, Thomas

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 7, 2022

Tiger Woods of the United States, center, shakes hands with Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, left, as Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, right, stands during the Challenge: Japan Skins event ahead of the Zozo Championship PGA Tour at Accordia Golf Narashino C.C. in Inzai, east of Tokyo, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

Tiger Woods is ready for his return to golf Saturday in Capital One’s The Match as he and Rory McIlroy take on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

Woods hasn't played competitively since the Open Championship in July, withdrawing from the Hero World Challenge after dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, but using the cart in this event will allow him to compete.

"I can hit golf balls, it's just getting from point A to point B," Woods said in Wednesday's press conference.

The 46-year-old has practiced regularly in recent months, although the foot injury has prevented him from entering an official tournament.

"The walking part was the challenge," Woods added.

The 12-hole exhibition at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida gives the superstar a chance to play competitively once again, though he might lean on McIlroy in the best ball format.

"I've got the No. 1 player in the world on my team so I'm good," Woods said of McIlroy, joking that he could end up being a "cheerleader" for the event.

Rory returned the compliment, saying Woods is "probably the best golfer that ever lived."

Spieth and Thomas represent a formidable challenge, especially considering their experience playing together. The duo went 4-0 as a team to lead the United States to a win at the 2022 Presidents Cup.

It still might be difficult to trash talk their more accomplished opponents.

"Ok, you have more majors than us," Thomas said of Woods and McIlroy. "You both have an airplane and we don't."

Fans could get a new perspective on the four players with each having an open mic during the competition. Spieth planned to provide some insight into his decision-making before shots while chatting with his teammate.

Woods, on the other hand, said the banter will be different than usual because he "can't use certain words."

This is the seventh iteration of The Match, with Woods the only one of the four with experience in the event. He faced Phil Mickelson in the 2018 debut and teamed with Peyton Manning against Mickelson and Tom Brady in 2020.

McIlroy showed his excitement to finally take part in the unique exhibition.

"I think it just brings a different audience to the game of golf, which I think is important," he said. "Golf can be perceived as just stuck in its ways. This appeals to a different audience."

Saturday's competition will benefit those affected by Hurricane Ian, with the previous six versions raising nearly $33 million in charitable efforts.