Tiger Woods flew to Oklahoma on Thursday for a practice round at Southern Hills Country Club, the first step in deciding whether he can play in the PGA Championship.
The 18-hole practice round while walking came three weeks before the start of the PGA Championship. The second major championship tournament of the year for men's golf is May 19-22 at the Tulsa course, which is hosting the PGA of America's big event for the fifth time.
A person with knowledge of his plans, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because only Woods can authorize such information, confirmed the practice round.
Woods made a remarkable return to golf earlier this month at the Masters, his first real tournament since his Feb. 23, 2021, car crash outside Los Angeles that shattered bones in his right leg and ankle. In his first time competing while walking a course since the injury, he made the cut at Augusta National Golf Club for the 22nd straight time, though he tired on the weekend and his limp was more noticeable in the final two rounds as he shot 78-78. He finished in 47th place out of the 52 players who made the cut.
Golf Channel reported that Southern Hills head pro Cary Cozby caddied for Woods on Thursday. Tulsa TV station KOTV showed an overhead shot of Woods putting while wearing a black sleeve on his right leg.
Southern Hills most recently hosted a major in 2007, when Woods won the PGA Championship for the second straight year and fourth time overall. That week featured his lowest score in a major, a 63 in the second round with a birdie putt that spun in and out of the cup on the final hole.
The course has also hosted the U.S. Open three times, most recently in 2001, when Woods tied for 12th place as his run of four straight major victories ended.
Woods left Augusta National unsure of when he would play next, although the 15-time major champion confirmed he would be at the British Open in July. He has already entered the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open in June, though that was a formality as an exempt player.
Woods' movement was picked up by internet sites tracking his private plane from South Florida to Tulsa, along with a photo on Twitter showing the aircraft on the tarmac. It didn't generate the same buzz as when he went to Augusta, Georgia, a week before the Masters, uncertain then if he would play the first major of the year.
Southern Hills is not as strenuous a walk as Augusta National, except for the steep decline walking off the first and 10th tees and the inevitable uphill climb back toward the clubhouse, with only slight elevation along the way.
While he was tired after the Masters, Woods could only see himself getting better.
"I don't quite have the endurance that I would like to have had, but as of a few weeks ago, didn't even know if I was going to play in this event," he said after completing his final round on April 10. "To go from that to here, we're excited about the prospects of the future, about training, about getting into that gym and doing some other stuff to get my leg stronger, which we haven't been able to do because it needed more time to heal."
Similar to the Masters, Woods likely won't decide whether to play the PGA Championship until the week of the tournament. Woods, who had already dealt with multiple injuries and surgeries over the course of his career before last year's car crash, has said he will focus on "just the big events" and won't ever play a full schedule again.
He most recently won a tournament in October 2019 at the Zozo Championship in Japan, where he tied Sam Snead for the PGA Tour's career wins record with his 82nd.