LOS ANGELES (REUTERS/AFP) - Tiger Woods will take the next step on his comeback this week at the Dubai Desert Classic, a step that just a few months ago he was not at all sure he would be able to take.
He had not played on the United States PGA Tour since August 2015 and went though back surgery in September and again in October of that year. His recovery was long and painful.
"It was tough. It was more than brutal," Woods said in a video interview released in conjunction with the Desert Classic event.
"Because there were times when I physically didn't know if I could get out of bed."
In the 15 months before he next played in a tournament - the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December 2016 - he slid to 666th in the world rankings, having enjoyed a total of 683 weeks as No. 1.
Now 41, Woods has not won on the PGA Tour since 2013. His last major championship triumph was in 2008. But the American is glad for the chance to change that this week, at a tournament he has won twice.
"I am looking forward to it," Woods, who saw his long-awaited PGA Tour comeback come to an abrupt end at the Farmers Insurance Open last week as he tumbled out of the tournament after missing the cut, said.
"I am looking forward to the golf course which is going to be playing a lot more difficult this year.
"It is going to be tricky, it is going to be tricky for all of us."
Nevertheless he told reporters he was in Dubai - where he has twice been a winner - with just one aim.
"If I'm teeing it up, the goal is to win it," said the American. "Whether I'm injured, coming off an injury or I'm playing well or I'm playing poorly, if I'm in the event, it's to win the event."
Woods faces stiff competition at the European Tour event, which also features British Open champion Henrik Stenson and Masters champion Danny Willett.