Tiger Woods says Im not dead, Im ready to go before Bahamas comeback
The 40-year-old former world No1 is making a comeback having pulled out three days before a tournament in October, stating his game was vulnerable
Never before has the imminent appearance of the worlds 898th-ranked golfer caused such a stir. Finally, after a series of false starts and more than 460 days, Tiger Woods will return to competitive action at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Thursday.
The ranking Woods is behind such unknowns as Max Rottluff, Brad Shilton and Curtis Thompson provides one element of context. The other was once visible to the naked eye as Woods battled severe woes of fitness and form when last involved in tournament play. His absence led onlookers to wonder whether the 14-time major champion would ever be seen again in a competitive environment. Barring something late and completely unforeseen, Woods will indeed take his place in the 18-man field for the event which also raises money for his charity foundation.
Im not dead, Im ready to go, said Woods, before admitting to an element of trepidation. Im nervous for every tournament I play in whether its after a lay-off or six in a row or a major.
I care. If I care, Im nervous. And its good to be that way. To have that nervous energy and channel it into aggression, into focus, concentration, thats good stuff. If I wasnt nervous, that would mean I didnt care. I dont want to be out there flat. I want to be out here so bad; and now I am.
Woods had previously entered for the Safeway Open and Turkish Airlines Open before withdrawing from both, citing a vulnerable golf game. The move triggered speculation that he only initially stipulated he would play in the tournaments because of commercial obligations.
It was a good decision in the end, Woods said. The competitor inside me wanted to go so badly and was itching to go. I had been playing at home. I thought if I only have a few shots, its good enough to get it around. I had played feeling worse.
But whats the point in rushing back when Ive waited over a year to begin with? Ive waited this long, its not going to hurt to wait just this much longer.
I have way more shots now because Ive played way more golf. I only had a handful of shots back then. I can hit all the shots now, on call.
Woods will be joined in the Bahamas by Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. That group will probably be delighted with the level of focus which will inevitably shift towards one member of the field. Bookmakers are unconvinced by Woods, though; he is a general 40/1 to win for the first time since 2013 when, as is often forgotten, he secured five victories.
After multiple back surgeries, Woods insisted walking is now easy and that he can run with my kids now. He added: Its a five-mile walk. You forget what it feels like to be in golf shoes versus tennis shoes, to be on an uneven lie versus a flat lie. I can walk for two or three hours on a treadmill and its not the same as walking on a golf course. Its so different, the standing around.
The rhythm of playing in a golf cart versus walking and playing. I had forgotten that because I had been away for over a year.