Tiger Woods officially registered on Monday for next month’s PGA Championship. Three days later, he took another big step toward indicating that he will indeed tee it up in the year’s second major.
Woods’ plane touched down in Tulsa, Okla., shortly before noon local time on Thursday and he left the airport about 15 minutes later, arriving at Southern Hills a short time later for a practice round to see how his surgically repaired right leg will hold up.
Golf Channel also reported that Woods planned to play 18 holes and that the club’s head pro, Cary Cozby, was caddying for him. Multiple videos on social media showed Woods, who was wearing shorts and a golf shirt as well as a sleeve over his surgically repaired right leg, hitting a variety of shots through his round, including one to about 5 feet on the par-3 sixth hole .
That he was able to play a practice round at Southern Hills less than three weeks after the final round of the Masters, and showed little-to-no ill effects in doing so, is promising given that Woods was clearly bothered physically down the stretch at Augusta National. He said then that he needed to build his endurance and to further strengthen his right leg. On Thursday, he swung fluidly and moved with only a slight hitch in his gait.
Following the final round at the Masters, Woods said he planned to play the British Open at St. Andrews in July but didn’t know if he would be able to play in the PGA Championship, which takes place from May 19-22.
Given that Woods is hosting his annual Tiger Jam charity event Friday and Saturday at the MGM and Shadow Creek golf course in Las Vegas, a visit to Southern Hills made for a logical stop en route from the 15-time major champion’s South Florida home.
Woods similarly flew to Augusta National the week before the Masters — with plane tracking websites likewise following his movements — before teeing it up this month for the first time since his near-fatal car crash outside Los Angeles last February. He opened with a one-under 71 but struggled the rest of the way and finished 47th.
Afterward, Woods reiterated that he won’t be playing a full schedule “ever again” and said, “It will just be the big events.”
Woods has won the PGA Championship four times, most recently in 2007 when the tournament was last held at Southern Hills.