Thomas: Tiger’s expectations will be low

Tiger Woods has not featured competitively since finishing seventh alongside his son Charlie at the 2020 PNC Championship; 82-time PGA Tour winner grouped with Team Thomas for the opening day – watch live this weekend on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 16/12/21 11:38pm

Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods are grouped together at the PNC Championship for the second year running

Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods are grouped together at the PNC Championship for the second year running

Justin Thomas is relishing the opportunity to compete alongside Tiger Woods once again when the 15-time major champion makes his return to action this weekend at the PNC Championship.

Woods is partnering his 12-year-old son Charlie for the team event in Florida, with the 36-hole tournament marking his first competitive appearance since sustaining serious leg and ankle injuries during February’s car crash.

Team Woods have been grouped for Saturday’s opening round alongside Team Thomas – Justin and his father Mike -with the former world No 1 delighted to see Woods able to tee it up again.

“My excitement level is high just for him being out here and being somewhere other than his house and getting to see a lot of familiar faces,” Thomas said. “I know spending time with Charlie (Woods) is a huge deal to him, so I know he’s excited for that part.

“In terms of the competing, I think his expectations are very low. But at the same time, he is who he is for a reason, so I’m sure he’ll be p***ed off if he didn’t play well!”

Bob McIntyre welcomes Woods' return to golf and says it is 'massive' for the sport

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Bob McIntyre welcomes Woods’ return to golf and says it is ‘massive’ for the sport

Bob McIntyre welcomes Woods’ return to golf and says it is ‘massive’ for the sport

Woods has undergone extensive rehabilitation since the crash, spending three weeks in hospital and then months recuperating at home before being in position to slowly work back towards playing golf.

“At the end of the day, it’s like any freak injury or accident, everybody’s recovery is different,” Thomas added.

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“It’s all just going to be kind of based on what you do in rehab and stuff like that. At the same time, just like my dad and his back, he has days where it’s good, then he has days where it’s not. Just like some days when I wake up, feel better than I do others.

“When he [Tiger] is going through something like that, I’m sure some days he’s like, ‘oh, wow, I can do this’, and there’s some days where it’s like, ‘oh, I’m not really sure’. But it’s very impressive and unbelievable. But I know that he somewhere deep down in there had this circled on the calendar of wanting to come back here.”

Woods admitted it will be some time before he may be able to return to PGA Tour action

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Woods admitted it will be some time before he may be able to return to PGA Tour action

Woods admitted it will be some time before he may be able to return to PGA Tour action

Nelly Korda is also part of the 20-team field, only open to major championship or Players Championship winners and their family members, with the women’s world No 1 looking forward to competing alongside Woods for the first time.

“When I heard the news [about Tiger’s return], I was in complete shock, especially since it being his first event back,” Korda said. “I mean, for him to come back from what he went through – when was his accident, February? Incredible.

Nelly Korda makes her tournament debut alongside her father, former professional tennis player Petr Korda

Nelly Korda makes her tournament debut alongside her father, former professional tennis player Petr Korda

“He’s had so many comebacks, and he’s always come back even stronger I feel like, and not many people expect it. He has done so much for the game of golf and we wouldn’t be where we are nowadays without him. He brings a completely different atmosphere.

“I always say I don’t really watch a lot of golf, but when Tiger is in contention, I’m always glued to the TV. So that’s just the impact he makes on the game of golf. It will be super exciting just to be playing in the same field as him.”

How will Tiger Woods get on at the PNC Championship? Watch this weekend live on Saturday from 5pm on Sky Sports Golf!