Tiger, hungry for return, puts three in the drink

TORONTO • Moments after Tiger Woods said he was "progressing nicely" from back surgery, the former world No. 1 hit three balls into the water on a short par-three hole on Monday.

The American, at Congressional Country Club to promote the June 23-26 Quicken Loans National, which he hosts, took three shots at the 102-yard 10th.

The first two went directly into the water and the third hit a slope before rolling in.

"See, I need a warm-up," Woods said after the final shot.

Prior to the exhibition, he said he still had no idea when he would make his return to the PGA Tour.

"If I knew, I would tell you because it would be fun to know," said the 14-time Major champion, who has not competed since the Wyndham Championship in August.

"It would be nice to know that I am going to play on such a date, but I don't know.

I'm still trying to get stronger, I'm trying to get more pliable. I'm hitting the ball better."

Woods, who first had back surgery in 2014, was seemingly injury-free last year. But then he had a second microdisectomy in September and a follow-up procedure six weeks later.

The American has competed in only 18 events on the US circuit since the end of 2013 but has recently been playing friendly games at Medalist, his home club in Florida.

"Everything about my game is coming around," said Woods, without a tournament win anywhere since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

"Now it's just a matter of being consistent with it, and then be able to do that not only at home against the boys at Medalist and try to take their cash, but try to come out here and do it against the best players in the world is a completely different deal."

The 40-year-old, who once used to practise up to 12 hours a day, has admitted he has had to lighten his training routine and his days of hitting 500 consecutive golf balls are past him.

Woods, however, still feels Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 Majors is attainable, and said that when he decides to make his return, it could be a last-minute decision.

"It could be, it may not be. It may be just say, hey, the plan is to get well and whether that's by next week or that's a year from now, I don't know," said the world No. 524.

"That's the hard part. Me telling you, I don't know. My doctors don't know, I don't know.

All we know is I just need to keep progressing, keep getting stronger, which I am, and that's the good part."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2016, with the headline 'Tiger, hungry for return, puts three in the drink'. Print Edition | Subscribe