No pain as Tiger gains on return

SYDNEY • Tiger Woods is waking up "pain-free" for the first time in three years, ahead of his return to golf at next week's Hero World Challenge, his fellow former world No. 1 Jason Day said yesterday.

The American, who has not played competitive golf for 10 months as he recovers from a fourth operation on his back in three years, will be making his comeback next week at his own tournament in the Bahamas.

"I did talk to him and he said it's the best he's ever felt in three years. He doesn't wake up with pain any more, which is great," Day said yesterday ahead of the Australian Open. "I totally understand where he's coming from because, sometimes I wake up, it takes me about 10 minutes to get out of bed.

"For him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

The 14-time Major champion Woods won five tournaments to be named the PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2013, but has played just 19 events since.

He made a comeback at the Hero World Challenge last year after nearly 16 months on the sidelines, finishing 15th in a final field of 17.

He then returned to the US Tour in January but missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open. A week later, he shot an opening-round 77 at the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic before withdrawing.

In April, the 41-year-old said he had undergone a fourth operation on his back in three years.

Day added that the Hero event, which includes world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and No. 2 Jordan Spieth, was the perfect tournament for Woods to make his return.

"With regard to him playing next week, there's no pressure," Day said. "It's an 18-man field, there's no cut. It's obviously a tournament that suits him, that he likes.

"He says he's ready and I'm hoping he is. From what he says, he's been hitting it long and if he is hitting it long and straight, it's going to be tough for us."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2017, with the headline 'No pain as Tiger gains on return'. Print Edition | Subscribe