Tiger Woods enters the great unknown at Torrey Pines

Tod Leonard, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Golf

"I haven't played a full schedule since 2015. It's been a long time," he said. "To be honest with you, I just want to start playing on the tour and getting into a rhythm of playing a schedule again. I haven't done that in such a long time that I don't know what to expect.

"I want to start feeling what it feels like to be out here and hit shots, grind out scores, and that's something that I've been looking forward to."

Woods, 42, played 16 PGA Tour events in 2013 and won five times. He has competed in only 19 tournaments since, managing one top-10 finish.

His 2014 season was hindered by back surgery, the '15 campaign was abbreviated and there was another back surgery, and he lost all of '16 while recovering.

When Woods tried to come back last year, he missed the cut for the first time at Torrey Pines and withdrew after one round the following week in Dubai.

Woods announced in late April that he would undergo more surgery -- this time to fuse disks in his lower back. He has said that there were times when the pain had been so bad he couldn't get out of bed.

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His soft return came in December at the unofficial event he hosts, the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. More encouraging than the results -- he shot a 65 in one round and finished 15th -- was how sound his swing and body looked.

Since that event, Woods said he has been playing golf at home in Florida about six days a week, which would give him about 40 rounds of work.

"Now it's just, 'Hey, want to go play 18? Want to go play 36?' Sure," Woods said. "That, to me, is fun. I miss those days."

Woods said that the quality of his life is "infinitely better" than it was a year ago when he came to Torrey Pines. He spoke of a burning pain running the length of his leg to his feet, and of times when he collapsed while walking.


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