Tiger Woods seems to have come to grips with the idea that he may never play professional golf again. After four back surgeries and a bout with prescription drugs this spring and summer, Woods gave a recent update that seemed encouraging. He's been hitting 60-yard shots and working out, but at the Presidents Cup on Wednesday, Woods said he knows that doesn't mean much yet.
"My timetable is based on what my surgeon said," Woods said on Wednesday. "As I alluded to last week, I'm hitting 60-yard shots. I'm hitting it really straight ... it's a joke, smile, OK.
"There were times when, as you all know, what [U.S. captain Steve Stricker] said before, I didn't know if I was going to be able to be here because I couldn't ride in a cart. The bouncing just hurt too much. Driving a car still hurt. So that's all gone now, which is fantastic, and yeah, there were some intrepid times; not just for this golf tournament, but for life going forward."
Woods remains wide-eyed about the future, but he knows that he, like every single golfer before him, cannot play forever.
" ... Overall I'm very optimistic how I'm progressing," Woods said. "Like I said, the pain's gone, but I don't know what my golfing body is going to be like, because I haven't hit a golf shot yet. So that's going to take time to figure that out and figure out what my capabilities are going forward, and there's no rush.
"I don't know what 100 percent means after eight surgeries, but I'll try and get as close as I can to that number, yes. But as I said, we just take it one step at a time. It's a process, and I'm in no hurry.
He was then asked a question that required a definitive answer: Could you see a scenario where you could not come back to competitive golf?
"Yeah, definitely," said Woods. "I don't know what my future holds for me. As I've told you guys, I'm hitting 60-yard shots."
That's a sobering thing to think about, but I don't know how Woods would not have thought about it. He's been gone from the game, more or less, for over two years with no end in sight. He has a wretched back that has required more surgeries than anyone would have ever thought, and he has more money than he could ever spend. Unless he thinks he can come out and beat the Jordan Spieths and Justin Thomas' of the world, what exactly is the allure?
I get that he's a competitive dude, and I appreciate that. Hell, I hope he comes back and plays for 15 more years. But that future is ambiguous at best, and Woods has admitted what we all already knew: We might have seen him play golf for the very last time.