Tiger ‘optimistic’ he will play again, but future uncertain

Tiger Woods remains optimistic that he will return to competitive golf, but acknowledged on Wednesday that it is possible he might not play again.

Woods, who is recovering from a fourth surgical procedure on his back, is serving as an assistant on United States captain Steve Stricker’s team for this week’s Presidents Cup at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J.

U.S. Team assistant captain Tiger Woods watches Brooks Koepka practice a chip shot at The Presidents Cup on Tuesday. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

“I don’t know what my future holds for me,” Woods said during a news conference. “Overall, I’m very optimistic how I’m progressing.”

Woods issued a statement on his website last week which covered many topics, including that he has begun hitting 60-yard wedge shots but has not yet been cleared to hit full shots. October will mark six months since his most recent surgery.

“The pain is gone, but I don’t know what my golfing body is going to be like because I haven’t hit a golf shot yet,” Woods said. “So that’s going to take time to figure that out and figure out what my capabilities are going forward. And there’s no rush.”

The 14-time major winner said he has been pain-free while working out and practicing chipping and putting at home.

Woods has not played in a major tournament since 2015, and last competed at the Dubai Desert Classic on Feb. 2, where he failed to make a birdie and withdrew after an opening-round 77. He acknowledged Wednesday that he was in considerable pain during that tournament, but attempted to battle through it in an effort to play in the Masters in April.

“I’ve been out of the game for a while,” Woods said. “Just keeping waiting for what my surgeon says. I’ve given you guys the updates on what I can do as I progress, and that’s all I’m doing.

“I’m still training. I’m getting stronger. But I certainly don’t have my golf muscles trained because obviously I’m not doing anything golf related.”

Woods was also asked what is driving him to attempt to make another comeback at this stage of his career after all that he has already accomplished.

“I think it’s fun,” he said. “I’ve been competing in golf tournaments since I was, what, four years old. From pitch, putt and drive to playing major championships, it’s always been fun for me.”

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