New York - Top-ranked Tiger Woods is very confident he will play next year's Masters but still has no timetable for his return after left knee surgery, he told ESPN in an interview aired on Tuesday.
Woods has not taken a full swing at a golf ball since his final playoff hole at last June's US Open, where he won his 14th major title despite leg pain to move within four of matching Jack Nicklaus' all-time career record.
"Next year," Woods said when asked when he will be swinging a club again. "Whenever my surgeons say."
Woods said he was "very confident" in playing at next April's Masters but has made no firm plans for a return, a situation complicated by his wife expecting their second child in "late winter", usually seen as mid-March.
"If I have six months off from surgery, that puts me into January, and another four months, that puts me at pretty much 10 months," he said. "That's a long time. I figure I can come back after 10 months.
"Generally it's between six-to-nine months and (American football players) are able to come back and compete and play. And if they can do it at that level, I hope I can do it in golf."
But Woods, a four-time Masters winner, has to be cautious. While that means handling normal actions with no pain, he has been careful not to put the stress of golf swing rotations on his body just yet.
"You have to let the ligament heal. It has to get more taut. I don't want to stretch it out. I don't want to have it go back to where it was," Woods said.
"I have to keep it taut, which means no rotation, everything in a straight plane. I feel good. I can do everything, except for rotation right now. I'm not allowed to rotate yet."