WASHINGTON: Tiger Woods, who launches his latest comeback this week, said Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) he was “loving life” now that he’s 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 on Thursday in the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas, where he’ll be competing for the first time since withdrawing form the Dubai Desert Classic in February.
He 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,” Woods said of the events that led to the incident.
“I’ve come out the other side and I feel fantastic. I didn’t realize how bad my back was. 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, I don’t have my leg twitching all over the place. So yeah, I’m loving life now.”
Woods, who last won a major title in 2008, said 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. “People ask me, why don’t you go out to dinner? I can’t, I can’t sit. So to be able to have the ability to go out and do things like that, and on top of that to be able to participate in my kids’ sports again … to be able to play with them again, man, I’ve missed it.”
Woods said he has also missed playing golf. He has competed in just three tournaments in the past two years.
“I didn’t realize how bad my back had become and how much I was flinching and just how slow I was. I didn’t realize it because it’s been a slow degrading process,” he said. “I thought I had some speed, thought I was playing halfway decent, shot some good scores, but now I’ve looked back on it and man, I didn’t even have much at all.
“Now to come out here and be able to do what I’ve been doing the last few weeks with the guys, it’s been a lot of fun.”
Woods said that after surgery that has left him with a “new body” he’s as curious as everyone else to see what he can do on the course.
“I don’t know where I’m at,” Woods said. “What I mean by that is I don’t know how hard I can hit it, what shots can I play … I don’t know what the future entails in that regard because I’m still learning this body.”