Tiger Woods has insisted he “is not dead” as he prepares to make his long-awaited return to golf, 16 months after he last competed.
The 40-year-old has suffered a number of setbacks on his road to recovery having pulled out of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in October three days before the event began, insisting his game was too “vulnerable”.
Woods has slumped to number 879 in the world rankings while undergoing two back operations since he last played in August 2015.
He is making his return at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, which he is hosting himself, in an attempt to gain some ranking points, as well as the £800,000 first prize.
“I’m not dead. I’m ready to go,” he told ESPN. ”I’m nervous for every tournament I play in, whether it’s after a lay-off, or six in a row, or a major.
“I care. If I care, I’m nervous and it’s good to be that way. To have that nervous energy and channel it into aggression, into focus, concentration - that’s good stuff. If I wasn’t nervous, that would mean I didn’t care. I don’t want to be out there flat.”
Woods has spent the last two months trying to improve his game, which hasn’t been helped by long-term sponsor Nike pulling out of manufacturing golf equipment.
As a result, Woods will be playing with TaylorMade woods and a Bridgestone ball, but will continue using his Nike Irons in Nassau.
“The most important thing is the ball,” he said. “Once you find a ball, then you can work around everything else.”
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