Tiger Woods says he was 'exhausted' by end of 2018 season, reveals first ace in 20 years

Tiger Woods played 18 PGA Tour events in the 2017-18 season, which was the second-most he's played in any season going all the way back to 2005. Despite closing strong with five top 10s in his last eight tournaments (including a win at the Tour Championship), Woods said on Tuesday that his body was pretty beat up following that heavy slog.

"I was not physically prepared to play that much golf at the end of the year," said Woods. "I had taken days off here or there, tournaments off, just trying to conserve energy and making sure my body is still good. I didn't want to hurt anything. But I ended up playing seven out of nine to end the year. 

"It's one those years, you guys have been out here long enough, it has never been this hot. Every single tournament, it was just stifling. Starting out in D.C., then you go to Akron. Even the PGA was hot for all the days. It was hot in New York, Boston. It was just hot. It was just hard for me to maintain my strength and my weight through all that. I tend to lose a lot of weight when I play. I was exhausted by the time I got to the Ryder Cup. I was worn out mentally, physically, emotionally, but thank God the Ryder Cup started on Friday so I had an extra day to get my juices flowing again."

I was at some of these events, and it was hot. But it's puzzling to hear Woods talk about how worn down he was given how well he played. It's almost like ... he plays better when he's not focused on training for the Navy Seals. Regardless, Woods has used the last two months to prep for what should be a pretty intriguing 2019. 

"I don't train anywhere near like I used to," said Woods. "I just physically can't do it anymore. I took a significant break off after the Ryder Cup, got away from it for a bit. My training sessions have been good. I've been getting a little bit stronger. My core and my legs are definitely stronger than they have been, which is a positive. Now I get started working on my game and getting that organized heading into next year. 

"It is a different feeling and I guess anyone can tell you this as an older athlete, there are some days where you just don't feel very good. That's part of the deal. Those are the days I just shut it down. I just don't push through it. I was explaining last year, on my days I didn't feel good in years past, I would just go run five miles, make myself feel better. Well, that's not happening anymore. I've got to learn that the body's just a little different now."

On Tuesday, he would not commit to anything more than the four major championships and the Genesis Open (which his foundation hosts), but he will almost certainly play fewer than 18 PGA Tour events in 2019.

Expectations are high for Woods, who will play this week's Hero World Challenge after last week's "The Match," which he lost to Phil Mickelson. He did note in the aftermath that he made his first ace in 20 years in the days leading up to his showdown with Lefty while he was playing with Fred Couples in California.

Last year at this event, Woods finished T9 in his first competitive tournament in nearly a year. This year? He's one of the favorites --not only for that, but for events like the Masters and U.S. Open, too. According to GolfOdds.com, Woods is 10-1 to win the Masters (Jordan Spieth is second at 12-1) and 11/4 to win exactly one major championship in 2019.

We will see less of Woods in 2019, but we will see a better version. One that is coming in as a top-15 golfer in the world instead of a walking question mark. This year at the Hero and beyond, the questions for Woods have nothing to do with microdiscectomy verbiage and whether his broken back can sustain the weight of an 18-event schedule (or the history he carries around), but rather things like: 

  • When are you playing next? 
  • What was your favorite shot of 2018?
  • What are realistic expectations for Tiger Woods in his 40s?

That might feel rote, like we're falling into old habits. But given where Woods has been and where he's taken us, rote never felt so refreshing.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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