WASHINGTON: Tiger Woods, his 39th birthday looming in December, laughed off 20-something Rory McIlroy’s recent estimation that the 14-time major winner and compatriot Phil Mickelson are in the back nine of their careers.
“I thought it was funny,” a relaxed Woods said Monday (Tuesday in Manila) as he promoted the Hero World Challenge unofficial event he will host in Florida in December.
“I mean,” he added, “Phil has less holes to play than I do, though.”
Woods, hindered all season by injury, acknowledged that, all kidding aside, McIlroy had a point.
“It’s a reality, you know? We’re all older,” he said. “I’m nearing my 20th season on
tour here coming up pretty soon. I’ve been out here for a while, and Phil has been out here for a while.
“Phil has made every single Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team since, I think, what, ’95? Pretty remarkable.
“As long as you’re still part of that conversation, you cross generations in this game of golf,” he said.
Woods said he’s as curious as the rest of the world to see how he’ll play when he tees it up at Isleworth Golf and Country Club for the tournament he hosts for the benefit of his charitable foundation on December 4 to 7.
He hasn’t played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship in August with back spasms, saying doctors told him he needed time to strengthen his back, although he insisted at the time the trouble wasn’t related to the surgery he had in March to relieve a pinched nerve.
He was sidelined for nearly four months thanks to that trouble, missing the Masters and US Open as he recovered.