Golf: Woods 'a long way' from return to top-flight competition

Tiger Woods speaks to the media during a press conference ahead of the Genesis Invitational in Pacific Palisades, California. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Golf superstar Tiger Woods remains confident he will return to top flight competition, but the timetable remains a mystery one year after a car crash left him with devastating leg injuries.

"I can come back, yes," Woods said on Wednesday (Feb 16) on the eve of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where the 15-time major champion is the tournament host.

The 46-year-old reiterated that he doesn't envision playing a full US PGA Tour schedule, and admitted that so far he has no idea when he will be ready to return.

"I wish I could tell you when I'm playing again," Woods said.

"I want to know, but I don't.

"My golf activity has been very limited. I can chip and putt really well and hit short irons very well, but I haven't done any long stuff seriously," he added.

Woods' comments will damp down expectations he could make a miraculous return for the Masters at Augusta National in April.

Woods excited fans with an appearance alongside son Charlie at the PNC Championship in Florida in December.

But he said the family-focused event was a far cry from proper tournament golf, including allowing the use of golf carts.

To walk a tournament course over practice rounds, pro-am rounds and tournament rounds, would still be beyond him, Woods said.

"I'm still working on the walking part," he said, "working on strength and development in that. It takes time.

"What's frustrating is it's not my timetable," Woods said.

"I want to be at a certain place, but I'm not. I've just got to continue working. I'm getting better, yes, but as I said, not at the speed and rate that I would like.

"You add in the age factor, too. You just don't quite heal as fast, which is frustrating."

Every day a fight

Woods said his work on the driving range had been limited because that practice "involves more loading, more torquing of the leg."

"I can play weekend warrior golf, that's easy," Woods said. "But to be able to be out here and play, call it six rounds of golf - a practice round, pro-am, four competitive days - it's the cumulative effect of all that. I'm not able to do that yet. I'm still working on getting to that point."

Woods, who has battled serious knee and back injuries in his career, showed no indication he had lost his appetite for the battle.

"Each and every day's a fight," Woods said. "And I welcome that fight. Get up in the morning, let's go a few more rounds."

And despite his frustration at how long his latest injury recovery is taking, Woods said he considered himself "very lucky" to be where he is after fears he would lose his right leg after suffering two compound fractures.

He underwent multiple surgeries to repair his leg after the SUV he was driving left the road in the Los Angeles suburb of Ranchos Palos Verdes, flipping several times.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department found that "unsafe" speed was the primary cause of the early morning accident.

"I'm very lucky, very lucky," Woods said. "I didn't know if I was going to have the right leg or not. So to be able to have my right leg still here, it's huge. I still have a lot of issues with it, but it's mine and I'm very thankful for that."

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