Sports

Rose: Woods is looking good

Tiger insists he's 'not dead' ahead of competitive comeback

Justin Rose is impressed with what he has seen of Tiger Woods ahead of his competitive comeback at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Friday morning (Singapore time).

Woods is counting down the minutes to his return to action and, after a year on the sidelines, he is enjoying the pre-tournament nerves.

The 40-year-old American has been sidelined for 15 months due to back-related issues.

He planned to return at last month's US PGA Tour's Safeway Open in California but withdrew three days before the opening round, saying his game was not sharp enough.

The 14-time Major champion told British media that it had been the right decision and he was now in better shape to return at the Dec 1-4 tournament he hosts.

"I'm not dead, I'm ready to go," said Woods.

"I'm nervous for every tournament I play in, whether it's after a lay-off or six in a row or a Major.

"I care. If I care, I'm nervous.

"And it's good to be that way.

"To have that nervous energy and channel it into aggression, into focus, concentration, that's good stuff.

"If I wasn't nervous, that would mean I didn't care.

FLAT

"I don't want to be out there flat. I want to be out here so bad - and now I am."

US Open champion Rose was impressed with what he saw of Woods during a nine-hole practice round in Albany while playing alongside baseball legends Derek Jeter and Tino Martinez.

The Englishman showed just how tame Tiger has become with some of his rivals by sharing a selfie taken with the former world No. 1.

"I hit it good today,' said Woods after the practice round.

Rose agreed.

"We've played today in a 32 kmh plus breeze and it's quite an unforgiving wind, but the quality of Tiger's play has been pretty good," said Rose, who won gold at the Rio Olympics.

Brian Wacker of Golf Digest was one of a select few journalists who were able to follow Woods' round and he reported that the American was able to outdrive Rose "more than once".

"If (Tiger) wanted to test his game, then these conditions, given as tough as they are, are a good test," added Rose.

"He's clearly driven the ball very, very well."

Woods has not played on the US PGA Tour since Aug 2015, having undergone surgeries in September and October of that year due to ongoing back problems.

The greatest player of his generation and arguably of all time, he has not won a tournament since 2013 and his title drought in the Major championships dates back to 2008.

Woods, who has fallen to 898th in the world, said it had been a wise decision not to rush his return.

"The competitor inside me wanted to go so badly and was itching to go. I thought if I only have a few shots, it's good enough to get it around," he said.

"But what's the point in rushing back when I've waited over a year to begin with? I've waited this long, it's not going to hurt to wait just this much longer."

Woods will make his return to competitive golf at High Noon alongside Patrick Reed.

Pairings for the 18-man invitational Hero World Challenge were released on Monday and Woods will be the second to play in the sixth group out.

It will be the first time Woods has played in the event owned by his charity foundation since it moved last year to the Bahamas and the Albany resort's par-72, 7,267-yard Ernie Els-designed course.

- Wire Services.

We’ve played today in a 32 kmh plus breeze and it’s quite an unforgiving wind, but the quality of Tiger’s play has been pretty good.

— Justin Rose on Tiger Woods

tiger woodsgolfsports