Golf

Wait's over, time for answers

Woods sets high bar after ending 15-month lay-off

Tiger Woods' current measure of success is just being able to compete at the Hero World Challenge tomorrow morning (Singapore time), where the former world No. 1 returns from the longest lay-off of his career.

A back injury has sidelined the 14-time Major champion since last August and, at this event 12 months ago, he wondered if he would ever play again.

Said Woods: "I'm playing again after 15 months of not competing.

"It was that period of a month of two I just couldn't get out of bed. I needed help. It was a tough time.

"It's just two different worlds. Things have improved so much I'm able to be here.

"It hasn't been easy. It has been a lot of hard work.

"Hopefully, I can get out there and shoot something. I'm going to have to get after it and see what happens."

The 18-player invitational event hosted by Woods' charity foundation will be played on a 7,267-yard, par-72 layout designed by Ernie Els at the Albany resort in the Bahamas featuring natural brush and sand.

Bubba Watson is the defending champion.

"I'm going to try to win this thing," Woods, 40, said.

"Bubba went low, shot 25 under. That's going to be a tall order. I haven't played in a while.

"But hey, I'm going to give it my best.

"I'm going to be focused, I'm going to do what I can do and put the ball in the correct spots, give myself looks and try to bury these putts and post scores, and get myself in that mix come Sunday afternoon."

Woods, four shy of the all-time Major record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus, has not won a Major since the 2008 US Open and has fallen to 898th in the world.

He joked that his goal will be a top 1,000 ranking and admitting he is nervous about this week.

Woods is mixing old and new clubs and trying to fashion competitive form with a hybrid style, realising his days of outdriving all rivals are done.

"Hopefully, I can put together some amalgamation of things and have some sort of a run," he said.

"I'm going to have to find different ways."

Woods tees off in the sixth of nine pairings at noon in the opening round alongside fellow American Patrick Reed, ending the longest lay-off of his career after 466 days.

Woods, whose tally of 79 US PGA Tour titles is three short of Sam Snead's all-time record, has not won since the 2013 World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational.

A month before his 41st birthday, Woods said he blocks out fan expectations to focus on his goal of winning again.

"It's noise," Woods said.

"My job is to go out there and win golf tournaments." - AFP.

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