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Tiger Woods Ready for ‘The Match’ but Also Will Be Rory McIlroy’s ‘Best Cheerleader’

Woods joked Wednesday about having the world No. 1 as a teammate this week and his son next week, though his own game is O.K.—walking aside.
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Riding in a golf cart is not going to give Tiger Woods the kind of feedback about his game that he hoped to garner over a three-week period this month. That pretty much was negated when he had to withdraw from last week’s Hero World Challenge.

But at least Woods will be competing in some form, although out of a cart and over just 12 holes, when he partners with Rory McIlroy on Saturday against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in what is called “Capital One’s The Match.”

MORE: How to Watch ‘The Match’

He is scheduled to do so again next week at the 36-hole PNC Championship.

Woods had to withdraw from his own event last week in the Bahamas, because he has plantar fasciitis in his right foot—the same one that was badly injured in a February 2021 car crash.

“I’m able to hit golf shots,” Woods said Wednesday during a conference call with McIlroy, Spieth and Thomas to promote ‘The Match.’ “I can hit shots; I’m just struggling to get from point A to point B. Being in a cart is a different deal. I do it all the time at The Medalist [his home club]. I was just trying to gear up, and it wasn’t actually about swinging the club.

“I’ve got to get this plantar to heal. That just takes time. It’s going to take a lot of rest and healing and unfortunately it’s rough for anyone who’s ever had it."

Woods said that having the golf cart “will help a lot" and that “I have the No. 1 player in the world on my team. He’ll have the best cheerleader he’s ever had."

Much like the PNC Championship next week, Woods downplayed his own abilities. He will play with his son Charlie, Dec. 17–18, in Orlando and last week he said all he has to do is “let Charlie hit the shots and I can pick the ball up out of the hole.”

Woods is likely underplaying his own abilities to a degree. He acknowledged he’s been hitting the ball fine but getting to it remains the problem.

“He’s probably the best iron player who has ever lived,” McIlroy said. Probably the best golfer who has ever lived, period. I think if he can get it out there in the fairway and get some looks from the fairway, I think we’re going to have a very good chance.”

The format for the competition is best-ball and will be played under the lights at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Fla., to be broadcast starting at 6 p.m. on TNT.

Woods has participated in two of the previous editions of “The Match,” dating to the first one in 2018, a “winner-take-all” $9 million match won by Phil Mickelson in Las Vegas. Woods also partnered with Tom Brady to win against Mickelson and Peyton Manning in a COVID-19 relief match in ’20.

MORE: Photos of ‘The Match’ Through the Years

This will be the first time for McIlroy, Spieth and Thomas, who served as a TV analyst before.

“I’ve watched a lot of the other ones and I think it looks like a lot of fun,” McIlroy said. “Prime time on a Saturday night. It’s sort of a different format. Brings a different format to the game of golf, which I think is really important. We’re getting a different demographic. Golf can be perceived as stuck in its way and traditional. This is sort of appealing to a different audience, and that’s a great thing.”