Tiger Woods, in his first public comments since his Memorial Day arrest in Florida for driving under the influence, on Tuesday spoke with a degree of uncertainty about the future of his playing career, stating he hopes to come back and play competitively again.
“I don’t know what my future holds for me,” Woods said during a news conference at Liberty National in advance of the Presidents Cup, where he’s serving as an assistant to U.S. captain Steve Stricker.
In April, Woods had fusion surgery on his back, his fourth back surgery, and in May he was found by police in a drug-induced stupor in his car on the side of the road. It was found that Woods was not abusing alcohol, but a number of pain killers.
As expected, Woods was asked the majority of questions in the scheduled press conference with assistant captains for both the U.S and International teams.
“I’ve been out of the game for a while,” Woods said. “First things first — get my health organized, make sure the pain goes way. Then, basically 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 last week released a statement on his website in which he said he’s started hitting 60-yard shots, but was not yet cleared by doctors to hit full shots.
“My timetable is based on what my surgeon said,” Woods said. “Overall, I’m very optimistic how I’m progressing. The pain’s gone, but I don’t know what my golfing body is going to be like because I haven’t hit a golf shot yet. 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.”
Woods didn’t address his arrest or his acknowledgement that he’d entered a treatment facility to get help with handling a possible pain-killer addiction.
Asked if there were times during his off-the-course ordeal this last year that he wasn’t certain he’d even be able to help Stricker out with this team, Woods said: “Yeah, well, there were times when … I didn’t know if I was going to be able to be here because I couldn’t ride in a cart. The bouncing just hurt too much. Driving a car still hurt.
“So that’s all gone now, which is fantastic, and yeah, there were some intrepid times; not just for this golf tournament but for life going forward.”
Woods has missed each of the major championships over the last two years. He tried to come back to competitive golf late last year and early in 2017, playing three tournaments. His last tournament was in January, when he withdrew after shooting a first-round 77 at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Asked what fuels him to want to come back, Woods said, “I think it’s fun. I’ve been competing in golf tournaments since I was — what — 4 years old? From pitch, putt and drive to playing major championships, it’s always been fun for me.”
For now, Woods’ only link to golf is his assistant captain duties, which he called “pure enjoyment about the competition [and] being with the guys.
“I’m trying to help the other assistants, the other players, and obviously our captain,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun. I had a great time last year [as an assistant Ryder Cup captain] and having a blast this year.”
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