Golf: Tiger 'excited' but still no timetable for return

Woods (above) has not played competitively since August 2015.
Woods (above) has not played competitively since August 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

BETHESDA, United States (AFP) - Tiger Woods said Wednesday he is "excited" about his rehabilitation progress following back surgery but the 14-time major champion gave no sign he might play in July's two major championships.

Woods, 40, has not played competitively since last August, then had surgery in September, the latest in a series of injuries and distractions away from the game.

"I'm still progressing. I'm getting stronger. I'm excited about what has transpired so far," Woods said. "It's about trying to recover for the next day. I need to get in golf shape."

"I'm trying to get back as fast as I can," added Woods, a former world number one who is now languishing at a lowly 582.

Woods refused to rule out any future events, knowing that next month brings the year's final two majors, the British Open and PGA Championship, thanks to a compressed schedule to accomodate golf's return to the Olympics at Rio after a 112-year absence.

"I'm playing it week to week," Woods said. "I keep getting physically better. I hope everything clicks in and I can do it sooner rather than later."

Woods has not won a major since the 2008 US Open after battling a number of knee, leg and back injuries. At times he was unable to even hit the ball.

"I've gotten better," Woods said. "I've been able to hit shots. I have good distance off the tee and that's a positive. I have enough speed now. More speed is what I need."

Woods has played full 18-hole rounds and on consecutive days but wants to get to the point where he can play 36 holes in a day or five or six consecutive days with no issues.

"I'm not quite there," Woods said.

Past premature comebacks have led to relapses and more recovery time battling injuries, so Woods has adopted the approach of taking extra time to make certain he is fit, not willing to venture a guess as to what percentage of his recovery he has completed.

"I'm driving myself in my training," Woods said, saying he works in the gym as well as swimming and cycling and playing soccer with his children.

"I need to pretty much do anything off the golf course and then do anything I would do on the golf course."

Woods said his past injuries give him experience to cope with the mental aspects of coming back on the tour and suffering lackluster results on his immediate return.

"It's going to take a little bit of tuning up," Woods said. "Hopefully not too long."

Woods spoke on the eve of the PGA National at Congressional Country Club, the suburban Washington event he hosts that benefits his charity foundation.

"I just wish I could be out there," Woods said. "It's tough not playing in your own event."