Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn had vastly different outcomes in their returns from injury over the weekend.
Their results — joint last place for Woods at the Hero World Challenge and a win and a second place for Vonn in World Cup races — weren’t the only contrasts.
“I’m not going to die in my sport,” Woods said after he finished even after 72 holes, sharing the bottom of an 18-man field in Orlando. “You know, what they [Alpine skiers] do and the surfaces they’re on, injected snow, it’s just scary how fast it is and how dangerous and how much focus you have to bring to the table. You know, probably the biggest thing besides that is our sport is about playing a physical chess match that takes time and lots and lots of patience, whereas theirs is just pure aggression.”
Woods, who played his first tournament in four months after a back injury, fell to No. 25 in this week’s Official World Golf Ranking and No. 14 among Americans. It matched his lowest ranking since Nov. 27, 2011. Woods was the year-end No. 1 in 2013.
To make the Rio 2016 Olympics, Woods will likely have to be in the top 15 come July 11, 2016, when the rankings will determine the 60-man field.
He will definitely have to be among the top four Americans.
Vonn, on the other hand, is off to a tremendous start in her bid to make a fourth U.S. Olympic team in 2018.
Of course, it is very early in the process for both athletes.
“You have to understand she really hadn’t skied that competitively in two years,” said Woods, who watched Vonn from the finish area at her last race before this past weekend, on an injured knee Dec. 21, 2013, in Val d’Isere, France. “So to be able to get into a position where she felt comfortable to push the physical limits, absolute limits -‑ because that’s what [you] have to do in order to win in her sport ‑- and to be able [to] take those chances and take [those] risks without having her knee blow out on her is pretty cool. She almost won today, which is even better. She’s got her confidence back.”
Vonn is next expected to race in Val d’Isere on Dec. 20, should there be adequate snow.