LOS ANGELES • The most bleak prognosis yet regarding a return to competitive golf for Tiger Woods has arrived from the man himself.
The American is currently in the midst of recovery from a third operation on the same area of his back, with the 39-year-old admitting at the Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas on Tuesday that he has no idea if or when he will play again.
Serious doubts have to remain over his career continuing at all, especially given his previously upbeat sentiment.
When asked about a timescale for any return, Woods replied: "I have no answer for that. Neither does my surgeon or my physio. There is no timetable.
HOPING FOR MORE
For my 20 years out here, I think I've achieved a lot, and if that's all it entails, then I've had a pretty good run. But I'm hoping that's not it.
TIGER WOODS, who is still hungry for further success
"That's the hardest part for me. There is nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I don't know."
He also admitted the extent to which he can exercise, which has not included any golf activity at all.
"I walk," said the 14-time Major winner. "And I walk and I walk some more.
"I am really good at playing video games. Really good. I swear, that's basically how I pass a lot of my time.
"I have to reset the clock every day and say, 'Here we go, this is a new day. Lets take it for what it is.'
"I listen to my surgeon, I listen to my physios and we just take it day by day. Hopefully the day by day adds up to something positive soon."
Woods once led the world ranking for a record 623 weeks but has since fallen to 400th after struggling with form and fitness in recent years.
He underwent microdiscectomy surgery to remove a fragment that was causing a pinched nerve in September. He had another surgery to ease discomfort in October. The latest procedures came after the same surgery in March last year.
He played in only 11 events this year - the worst season of his professional career - having taken part only in seven tournaments last year. He is spending this week in the Bahamas, where his foundation is the host of the Hero World Challenge.
He has already been named a vice-captain of the United States Ryder Cup team against Europe at Hazeltine next September.
Despite the downbeat assessment of his immediate future, Woods said he would be satisfied even if he failed to add to his astounding haul of 14 Majors - four adrift of Jack Nicklaus' 18 - and 79 wins, three behind Sam Snead's 82.
"I've had a pretty good career for my 20s and 30s," he said. "For my 20 years out here, I think I've achieved a lot, and if that's all it entails, then I've had a pretty good run. But I'm hoping that's not it. I'm hoping that I can get back out here and compete against these guys. I really do miss it."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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