Golf: Woods' spirit willing but flesh is weak

14-time Major winner Tiger Woods was all smiles at the signing of his new book The 1997 Masters: My Story. Woods is hoping to make his return from injury at the Masters, which will be held from April 6-9.
14-time Major winner Tiger Woods was all smiles at the signing of his new book The 1997 Masters: My Story. Woods is hoping to make his return from injury at the Masters, which will be held from April 6-9.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Tiger Woods still feels he has a chance to compete for a fifth Masters triumph in two weeks but his back remains an issue, the golfer said on Monday.

The 14-time Major champion has not played since withdrawing from last month's Dubai Desert Classic with ongoing back spasms.

Woods is in New York to promote a new book about his first triumph at Augusta in 1997 and when asked on television's Good Morning America show if he would compete at the National this year.

He said: "God, I hope so. I'm trying. I'm trying everything I can do to be able to get back and play. I love that event. It has meant so much to me in my life."

Woods added that while his spirit is willing, his body remains an issue when it comes to being able to train well enough to prepare for the rigours of four rounds at a Major.

"I know that the mind is sharp, I just need to get the body willing to do it," Woods said.

Should the four-time Masters champion be unable to compete at Augusta National, it would be the third time in four years that he has missed the tournament.

Woods became the first black golfer to win a Major and the youngest champion in Masters history at age 21 with the landmark victory in what was then an Augusta National course record.

The tale is the subject of his new book, The 1997 Masters: My Story.

"I do have a chance. I'm working on my game. I just need to get to a point where I feel like I'm good enough and I'm healthy enough to do it," Woods added.

"I've been practising. I haven't been playing (rounds)... It's building, but I still have a little ways to go."

Woods missed the 2014 Masters with a back injury and missed all of the 2015-16 season following back surgery.

He made his comeback last December after a 15-month hiatus at the Hero World Challenge, then missed the cut at Torrey Pines in January before pulling out at Dubai after an opening 77.

Woods, who has not won a Major since the 2008 US Open, has not made the cut in a Major since finishing 17th at the 2015 Masters.

Two weeks ago, Woods said he would be unable to play in last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational "due to ongoing rest and rehabilitation on my back".

He also said that he had no timetable for his return but treatments were "going well".

Woods, second on the all-time Major wins list to Jack Nicklaus' 18, has won 79 career PGA titles.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2017, with the headline 'Woods' spirit willing but flesh is weak'. Print Edition | Subscribe