Golf icon Tiger Woods posted video of himself hitting balls on Sunday, nine months after suffering career-threatening leg injuries in a car crash in California.
“Making progress,” Woods said in the no-frills caption to the video posted on Twitter.
The 45-year-old looks at ease, wearing shorts with a compression stocking on his right leg, which was shattered when the 15-time major champion crashed his SUV in a Los Angeles suburb in February.
Woods’s latest injury drama sparked fears for the future of his career, and Twitter erupted with likes, replies and retweets of his video from fans and golf journalists.
Fellow PGA Tour pros also took note, with three-time winner Max Homa wryly noting the stir Woods’s two-second video would cause.
“I wonder if Tiger and his crew laugh right before they post a swing video knowing the entire free world is about to lose their damn minds #golf,” Homa tweeted.
Woods’s friend and fellow pro Justin Thomas offered a heartfelt response.
Moments after tweeting how much he loved the passion Rory McIlroy displayed on the European Tour on Sunday, Thomas posted along with the Woods video: “But I think I love this more”.
Thomas said in a podcast recently that Woods was “going to try” to make a comeback.
“I know that he’s going to try,” Thomas said on the No Laying Up podcast. “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, ‘OK, 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.”
Woods has returned from career-threatening injuries before. He had spinal fusion surgery in 2017 and after returning to competition in 2018 won his fifth Masters title, and 15th major crown, at the 2019 Masters.
That sensational triumph at Augusta National was Woods’s first major since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines – where Woods beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff despite playing on a broken leg.
He has undergone multiple surgeries on his back and knee over the years in order to extend his career and was recovering from another procedure on his back to alleviate pain when he crashed in February.
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department probe determined the crash, in which Woods’s car flew off the road and flipped several times, was caused by “unsafe” speed nearly double the 45 mph limit.
Woods had indicated in an Instagram post in April that his recovery was progressing slowly.
In May, he told Golf Digest that his current injury rehabilitation “has been an entirely different animal” than previous recoveries.
“This was more painful than anything I have ever experienced,” he told the magazine, although there were signs of progress that month when a Florida girl posted a picture of herself and the superstar after meeting him in a soccer park, the photo showing Woods on crutches but without a protective walking boot.
Earlier this month a Twitter poster had snapped a photo of Woods walking without crutches.
But Woods has kept a low profile while focusing on his recovery.
‘LOVE to see it!’
Golf Digest on Sunday offered an instant analysis on its website of the video, which it said “appears to be shot on the driving range of Medalist Golf Club” near Woods’s Florida home.
The magazine picked out Woods’s “uninhibited movement” and said the multiple visible divots “would seem to point to a practice session rather than an isolated shot for the camera.”
For many, however, the video was cause not for analysis but simply for joy.
“We LOVE to see it!” read a post on the US Ryder Cup team’s official Twitter account. “Keep going @TigerWoods, we’re all cheering for you.”
Added two-time PGA Tour winner Tony Finau: “Great to see the Big Cat back swinging the sticks!”
Homa, Finau and Thomas are among a generation of golfers inspired by Woods – who has been keeping an eye on the game over the past few months.
He was quick to congratulate Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama on his historic triumph at Augusta National via social media, noting Matsuyama’s “huge accomplishment for you and your country. This historical @TheMasters win will impact the entire golf world.”
Woods’s long-distance messages also inspired the US team that throttled Europe in the Ryder Cup in September.
“We knew he was fist pumping from the couch,” American Xander Schauffele said.