Aussie veteran Rod Pampling has serious doubt that Tiger Woods will ever hit a competitive golf shot again just days after the 15-time major champion made a rare public appearance.
Woods was photographed watching his son competing in a junior tournament in Florida last weekend, the first time he had been seen without crutches since the car accident in Los Angeles on February 23 that shattered his right leg and ankle, potentially ending his career.
Still sporting a sleeve on his lower leg, the rare Tiger sighting and posting to social media fuelled new speculation that his road to recovery and potential return to the PGA Tour is ahead of schedule.
Pampling, however, remains unsure whether Woods will ever return to professional golf or even be able to swing a golf club again.
Winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in 2006 – a venue where Woods won eight times in his storied career – Pampling hopes to see the 45-year-old one day join the Champions Tour but indicated that the reality of his recovery makes it an unlikely outcome.
“It would be awesome if he did but right now, from my understanding, is that the ankle is really bad,” Pampling said on this week’s episode of the Inside The Ropes podcast.
“For him to actually hit a shot first… That will be interesting to see, if he actually even gets to hit a shot.
“If he does it’d be great. Wherever he goes it will be awesome to see him back out on the golf course again.
“Cross fingers, hopefully he’ll get back on the PGA Tour first and then after that few years maybe he may venture out for one or two (on the Champions Tour).
“I don’t know, but it would certainly be awesome if he did.”
With three wins from just four starts US PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson is currently the big ticket item on the senior circuit in the US.
Mickelson’s post-50 resurgence has once again highlighted the quality of golfers playing week-to-week on the Champions Tour.
Major winners abound but what is causing much locker room debate of late is the influx of Australians to have joined the Tour.
Pampling’s win at the Boeing Classic in August was the first by an Aussie since Rodger Davis in 2003 and has coincided with a host of Australia’s most accomplished players joining the Champions Tour in recent months.
John Senden, Robert Allenby, Mark Hensby and Stuart Appleby have all made their Champions Tour debuts in 2021… and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“It’s nice to have the guys out there,” said Pampling, who sits 11th in the Charles Schwab Cup ahead of this week’s SAS Championship.
“The other players out there are not happy because they’re calling it the Aussie invasion at the moment.
“They’re ragging us a little bit saying there are too many Australians and that they might have to limit the numbers to three or whatever. It’s a lot of fun.
“I like to stir the pot a little bit so to have Robert out there, he’s an easy one and Stuey’s pretty good as well. Having my mate ‘Sendo’ back out there, we’ve travelled a lot together so that’s awesome.”
Having recently celebrated his 52nd birthday Pampling is eyeing off another eight years on the Champions Tour but admits that even at 60 his body will dictate whether he continues to play on.
“It’s fun right now. The body’s still good so I’m looking forward to at least another eight years,” said Pampling.
“Once we get past 60 we’ll have a look. It depends on who comes through and how many come through because it goes on moneylist and career earnings and what-not.
“If I get to 60 and I’m still out there playing I’ll probably keep cracking at it.”