Tiger Woods feels fit and ready to compete as he returns to full-field PGA Tour action in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
Tiger Woods declared he feels fit and healthy for the first time in five years and believes he is now capable of generating the same power in his swing that he had in his prime.
Woods has been upbeat and positive during his preparation for this week’s Farmers Insurance Open, his first full-field PGA Tour start since he missed the cut at Torrey Pines 12 months ago.
The 42-year-old lasted only one round at the following week’s Dubai Desert Classic before pulling out with a recurrence of his long-standing back injury, forcing him to undergo spinal fusion surgery.
Woods returned to competitive golf in the Bahamas last month and finished in a share of ninth place at the Hero World Challenge, and he is looking forward to playing a full schedule now that he is free from pain.
“It feels good,” said the 14-time major champion, who is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines including the 2008 US Open. “It feels good to go out and practice, it feels good not to have a burning sensation going down my leg and into my foot. I don’t collapse when I’m walking … it was so bad for so long.
“But turning it around and having my back fused, I haven’t felt this good in years. So I’m excited about it, as I had not felt good in four or five years.”
Woods looked to have plenty of speed in his swing at Albany last month, and he is confident that he can still compete with many of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour thanks to the successful surgery on his back.
He added: “My surgeon said from the get-go, ‘Once my back is fused, you’ll have speed like you did in your early 30s’, and he’s right. There’s no pain, I’m not flinching, it doesn’t hurt as I take the club back, it doesn’t hurt right before impact, it doesn’t hurt after impact, it doesn’t hurt when I walk.
“It was tough for a while, but I don’t have any of those feelings so I can let it go a little bit. I’m getting the ball out there, I’m starting to hit some shots, I’m starting to shape the golf ball again and now I got to start doing that in a tournament. I’ve got to hit those shots, those shapes and those numbers. It’s going to take a little time but I’m looking forward to it.”
Woods has parted company with swing coach Chris Como and is now going it alone on the practice range, but he insisted he made that decision as he knows better than anybody what his body can or cannot cope with now, although he also admitted he is still learning his limitations.
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“It’s been fun thinking ahead to playing in tournaments and visualising what shots I’m going to need,” he said. “It’s been fun executing that at home. Now I need to bring that here and execute it out here.
“I have to rely on my own feels and play around with what my body can and cannot do. It’s not going to look like it used to because I don’t have the mobility that I used to have, that’s just the reality. And now it’s just a matter of what I can do, and that’s just practising and getting my feels and trusting them.
“I’m experimenting a lot to try and figure out what can this body do and how explosive can it be and how am I going to control shots with different shapes, am I going to have different feels? And some of that stuff is a ‘yes’, but some of that stuff is different. I’m still learning it.”