WASHINGTON • Tiger Woods, who launches his latest comeback this week, said on Tuesday that he was "loving life" now that he is free of the pain he was trying to conquer with multiple medications.
The 41-year-old 14-time Major champion is due to tee up today in the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas, where he will be competing for the first time since withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic in February.
The American takes on an elite 18-player field in the charity event he hosts that includes eight of the top 10 in the world rankings.
Following his last tournament in Dubai, Woods had surgery in April to fuse vertebrae in his lower back.
His fourth back operation was followed by a driving under the influence charge on May 29 - when he was found asleep at the wheel of his running car and toxicology tests revealed an array of prescription medications in his bloodstream.
"I was trying to go away from the pain and I was trying to sleep, which I hadn't done in a very long time because of the things I've been dealing with," he said of the events that led to the incident.
"I've come out the other side and I feel fantastic. Now that I'm feeling the way I'm feeling, it's just hard to imagine that I was living the way I was living, with my foot not working, my leg not working, and then the hours of not being able to sleep at all because of the pain.
"So as my back improved, I've been able to start sleeping again because I don't have the nerve pain going down my leg. So yeah, I'm loving life now."
Woods, who last won a Major title in 2008, added that his most recent surgery was "about quality of life" even more than it was about golf.
"I've been in bed for about two years and hadn't been able to do much," he said. "So to be able to have the ability to go out and do things... and on top of that to be able to participate in my kids' sports again... to be able to play with them again, I've missed it."
Woods' children, Sam Alexis, 10, and Charlie Axel, 8, are avid football players. Golf, he said, holds little interest for either.
In July, after his children posed for a photograph with Lionel Messi and his Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez, Woods said to them: "Isn't it neat to meet a living legend?"
He was taken aback by the reply from Sam, who said: "Yeah, we live with one."
Woods said: "I never thought my kids have understood what I've been able to do in the game of golf because they always think I'm the YouTube golfer."
Despite making his return today, he has not committed to a schedule after this weekend.
"I don't know what my body can and can't do yet," he said.
"I'm just looking forward to getting through these four rounds and having a better understanding of where I'm at.
"But I want to be able to compete and give myself a chance on Sunday to win this thing."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES, REUTERS
HERO WORLD CHALLENGE
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