Back-from-injury Tiger wants to win again
Former world No. 1 makes another comeback bid this week
Tiger Woods makes another return to competitive golf this week and, despite 10 months on the sidelines recovering from a fourth back surgery, the 14-time Major winner's goal remains the same - to win.
While Woods' famous competitive fires continue to rage, the former world No. 1 conceded he may have to temper his expectations at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
He takes on an elite 18-player field that includes eight of the top 10 in the current world rankings.
"I just really want to be able to compete this week, play all four days and give myself a chance on the back nine on Sunday to win this thing," a relaxed and smiling Woods told a news conference on Tuesday from the Albany Club.
"I don't know where I'm at, I don't know how hard I can hit, what shots can I play. I don't know what the future entails in that regard because I am still learning this body."
Woods will be making his third attempt for a comeback at the Hero World Challenge, a charity event he hosts, which starts tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
He will be competing for the first time since withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic in February.
Just last year, Woods made a similar return at the Hero, following a 16-month hiatus for previous back surgeries. The initial reports were upbeat after he completed four rounds.
But he succumbed to more back pain two months later, and returned to the operating table.
The neatest thing for me is to be able to get out of bed, grab a club and not use it as a crutch.Tiger Woods (below), on overcoming his back issues
Woods, however, insists it is different this time.
"I was still struggling with some nerve issues down my leg when I came back at Isleworth (the previous venue for the event), last year I was the same but it was not where it's at now," said Woods.
"It's different than my prior two comebacks at this event. Last year, I was still struggling and this year is night and day.
"There's still some apprehension going forward and, no doubt, this week is a big step for me, to be able to play golf, be explosive and hit shots."
Woods said he has made no plans on his competitive future beyond the Hero World Challenge.
While the state of his game remains a big question mark, he made it clear that he has undergone a dramatic improvement in his quality of life.
"The neatest thing for me is to be able to get up out of bed and I can grab a club and not use it as a crutch," he said with a smile.
Woods said he didn't realise how bad his back was.
The pain also gave him sleepless nights.
He said: "Now that I'm feeling the way I'm feeling, it's just hard to imagine that I was living the way I was living, with my foot not working, my leg not working, and then the hours of not being able to sleep at all because of the pain.
"So as my back improved, I've been able to start sleeping again because I don't have the nerve pain going down my leg, I don't have my leg twitching all over the place. So yeah, I'm loving life now."
Woods, who last won a Major title in 2008, said his most recent surgery was "about quality of life" even more than it was about golf.
"I've been in bed for about two years and hadn't been able to do much," he said.
"People ask me, why don't you go out to dinner? I can't, I can't sit. So to be able to have the ability to go out and do things like that and, on top of that, to be able to participate in my kids' sports again... man, I've missed it." - WIRE SERVICES
BY THE NUMBERS
Tiger Woods last won a Major title nine years ago in the US Open.