Bethesda - Tiger Woods says he is feeling as well as he has in two years and
sees little re-injury risk this week despite a comeback that is well
ahead of schedule.
The 14-time major champion, sidelined for three
months following back surgery to ease a pinched nerve, returns to
competition starting Thursday at the $6.5 million US PGA National.
"I'm actually probably ahead of schedule, where everyone thought I would be at," Woods said.
"We all thought the British Open would be my first event back, but I healed fast."
event at Congressional Country Club benefits Woods' charity foundation
and he said Tuesday that factor played a role in his decision to return
this week rather than wait three more weeks for the British Open, his
original target goal.
"If this wasn't the foundation and our
impact that we can have with kids, I probably would not (have played),"
said Woods. "I healed extremely fast, thanks to my physios and all my
nutrition and all the different things that we did."
confirmed that he does plan to play in the British Open next month at
Royal Liverpool, where he won the Claret Jug in 2006, and intends to be
in the hunt for his first title in 13 months this week at Congressional.
don't change. That's the ultimate goal," Woods said. "It's just that
it's going to be a little bit harder this time. I just haven't had the
amount of prep and reps (preparation and repetitions) that I would like,
but I'm good enough to play and I'm going to give it a go."
will tee off at the 10th hole at 8:12 a.m. Thursday alongside
Australian Jason Day and young US star Jordan Spieth, both Masters
runner-ups still seeking their first major triumph.
It will be the
first competitive round for Woods since he fired a 78, the worst
final-round score of his pro career, on June 9 at Doral, where he
struggled to bend over to pick the ball out of the cup.
been an interesting road," Woods said. "This has been quite a tedious
little process but one where I got to a point where I can play
competitive golf again and it's pretty exciting."
chasing the record 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus, said he
painstakingly followed exercise protocols and slowly rebuilt his game,
progressively hitting 10 yards further when his condition allowed.
the strengthening exercises I've done throughout the years have paid
off and have allowed me to get back quicker and to get back to this
point," Woods said.
"When you get treatment all the time, it's amazing what you can do."- 'My prime is coming up' -
Woods was able to swing fully with a driver about two weeks ago and began to play practice rounds.
wanted to knock off a little bit of rust on the range before I actually
went out there and tried not to embarrass myself and I was able to do
that, got some holes in, started feeling comfortable," Woods said.
"I broke 50 for nine, first time, just like I was when I was three. So I'm sneaking up on it. My prime's coming up."
who has fallen from atop the world rankings last month to fifth this
week, said he sees only minimal risk of reinjuring himself by returning
sooner than first planned.
"I'm going to get stronger as time goes on," Woods said.
risk is minimal, and just like it is with every round we play, we can
hit behind a tree root and damage something... I'm no different in that
Woods, who has not won a major title since the 2008 US
Open, said he has not fully regained the explosiveness in his shotmaking
that he prizes.
"It still hasn't happened, not to the level that I'm used to being that explosive," Woods said. "That's going to come in time."
says that given the nagging knee, leg and back injuries that have
bothered him in recent years, he is feeling better than he has in some
"It has been a very, very long time, probably a good two years since I've felt this way," Woods said.
had good weeks where I felt fantastic, and those were the weeks I
actually played well. I won five times last year. And then there were
weeks where I just couldn't move, 'What is going on here?' And then it
started progressively deteriorating from there."
Woods and US ski
star girlfriend Lindsey Vonn were set to visit the White House in nearby
Washington on Tuesday evening to meet US President Barack Obama at a
ceremony to honoUr the 2013 US Presidents Cup team's triumph.