Considering Tiger Woods is, y’know, Tiger Woods, we don’t hear much about him these days. We see him even less. A passing photo will pass through social media here or there; he’ll be attending a kid’s sporting event or heading to a doctor’s appointment. But he’s not exactly going out for groceries and his digital footprint is near-zero, save for a few announcements about his foundation or investments.
Woods’ social circle isn’t huge, and of those that see him, few provide updates. So as we approach nine months since Woods’ Los Angeles car accident, the condition of the most famous golfer of all time remains largely unknown.
But now and then we get bits and pieces from those who have been in touch with him. Rory McIlroy. Rickie Fowler. Steve Stricker. But of all the PGA Tour pros, Justin Thomas seems to have the most day-to-day contact with Woods. So when he provided an update on the No Laying Up podcast earlier this week, that was about as close to a first-person source as we’re likely to get.
“I’d say I probably go over and see him two or three times a week when I’m home,” Thomas said. “I go over there more so to let our dogs play and hang out — it wears our pup out. But yeah, he’s doing well. Especially all things considered, I think he’s…I mean, it’s Groundhog Day, every day’s the exact same thing for him. But at least he’s able to — pictures were going around of him at [his son] Charlie’s tournament, [his daughter] Sam’s soccer tournaments here and there. He’s able to be a Dad somewhat again, which is most important.”
Thomas added that Woods’ personality remains largely unchanged.
“He’s still his sarcastic a—— self so nothing has changed there, so I’m glad to see that he’s still chipper as always,” he said with a laugh.
Podcast host Chris Solomon explained that while he was reluctant to put too much emphasis on Woods’ golf future, he and the rest of the world remain curious whether Woods is even thinking long-term about a comeback.
“I don’t know, I mean, I know that he’s going to try,” Thomas said. “I don’t see him ever playing if he can’t play well. He doesn’t strike me as a guy who’s played at home and he’s shooting a bunch of 75s and 76s and he’s like ‘Okay, I’m gonna give Augusta a try this year.’ That’s not really gonna be him, at least from my understanding, what I know of him. He knows that there’s a pretty good chance that that was the last chance he really ever had, before that, of making another run, but at the same time I know how determined he is and I know he’s going to want to at least try to give something again.
“Obviously I hope he does. But at the same time, as I said after the accident, as long as he can be a dad and be normal with that again, that’s the number one priority, and the rest of this is a bonus.”
Solomon agreed that after Woods’ previous resurrection in 2018-19, he’d promised to never count out Woods again under any circumstances. Still, both he and Thomas wanted to keep their expectations reasonable.
“Even if it’s something like when he feels good again if he goes and rides around with Charlie at the Father-Son,” Thomas said. “It’s just something where he wants to be a dad and enjoy those moments with him and watch him potentially be playing. And to go watch Sam at her soccer tournaments and she’s such an athlete and how smart she is, to be a part of her life. That’s what he wants to do and his competitive side is not gonna let him just hang it up without at least giving it a try at some point, I’m sure.”
Woods’ next public appearance is unknown, but it could come as soon as next month’s Hero World Challenge, where he serves as tournament host. In the meantime it’s reassuring that Thomas (and his dogs) will be going over to keep him company.
The rest of the Thomas interview is well worth your time, too. For a wide-ranging discussion on Thomas’ season, his mental health, his goals, his thoughts on the state of golf and much more, listen here.