There are many things tour players do that amateurs don’t, but among them, warming up properly could be the most important.
If it’s not you, you probably know at least a few people who pitch up to the club five minutes before their tee time and head straight to the first with zero prep.
With that in mind, I followed Tiger Woods inside the ropes at Riviera on his latest return to pro golf at the Genesis Invitational and tracked every shot he hit before he started his first round.
This is a man who’s had his body pieced back together countless times and who is lucky to still have two legs, so he obviously can’t put in the same reps he would have even five years ago in the midst of his persistent back problems, and is certainly incapable of tackling his unbelievable former daily routine.
Yet he still warms up better and more efficiently than most healthy and injury-free golfers. Woods was due to tee off at 12.04pm local time, and given his laundry list of physical ailments, I expected him to arrive promptly, so I made my way down the hill shortly after 10am to ensure I didn’t miss a shot. I was waiting a while.
At 11.17am, 47 minutes before he would hit start his first competitive round since the 150th Open in July of 2022, the 15-time Major champion sauntered over to the short game area to join playing partners Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas. Here is what I saw next and the lessons I learned.
Woods spent 10 minutes at the short game area, starting with some chips before moving into the rough and the bunker. In total, he hit 35 shots and appeared very relaxed, chatting to caddie Joe LaCava as well as McIlroy and Thomas. Here’s how he broke it down:
- 17 chips from closely mown grass to a range of targets at varying distances
- 10 greenside shots from the rough – a mixture of chips and flop shots
- 8 bunker shots from various lies to various targets
Woods then made his way over to his designated spot on the range to work through the bag, starting with his wedges and short irons. In total, he hit 20 shots here in six minutes.
- 10 shots (wedge) – upping the distance gradually
- 10 shots (8 or 9-iron)
The 47-year-old then hit some mid and long irons, swinging with more vigour and reducing the reps. He hit just eight shots and showed signs that he was struggling a little with his ankle.
- 5 shots (5 or 6-iron)
- 3 shots (3-iron)
Three minutes later, it was time to hit some woods. At the Genesis…
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