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I am not dead, Tiger Woods warns new order ahead of World Golf Challenge

Tiger Woods has not played on the PGA Tour since August 2015 following back surgeries in September and again in October of that year. He will be a big draw at the World Golf Challenge

other sports Updated: Nov 30, 2016 16:34 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Hindustan Times
Tiger Woods,Golf,Bubba Watson
Tiger Woods with Bubba Watson ahead of the Hero World Challenge that starts from Thursday.

Albany (The Bahamas)

The new order will take over, that’s the norm, and Tiger Woods is at peace with it. When he came on, a driving distance of 296 yards made him the second-longest hitter on the Tour after John Daly. Now, there are over 50 who cross 300 yards effortlessly.

“I’m not dead, I’m ready to go,” said Woods, ahead of the Hero World golf Challenge here.

While there is little regret over the change as “that’s relative”, abstaining from golf hit him in another way. “Beating the brains out” is what top-flight competition brings with it, and the “needling” inside the ropes was missed. The off-the-course effects impacted him more.

“Going out together for meals (with fellow players), the fraternity and camaraderie was what I missed more,” said Tiger Woods.

He tees off competitively since August 2015 this week at the Albany Championship Golf Course, and the first sign that he’s ready to compete is the apprehension.

“Being nervous is a sign that I want to get back to playing,” he said on the sidelines of the Hero World Challenge, which gets underway from Thursday.

Way ahead

The anxiety to get back hasn’t led him to plunge headlong though. Tiger, who turns 41 next month, is aware that he needs to do a lot more. “At my age I can’t go to the 1st tee and bomb it up. I’m getting there but a lot more need to be done.” The signs are there all the time, he said, pointing to the grey strands in the beard and having to “pull hair from the top (head) and put them on the face”.

A laugh followed, a sign that he was at peace, but he continued to lay stress on the road he’s traversed and the one that lay ahead.

A part of getting back was exchanging notes with friends who competed at his level in other sports. After 20 seasons in the Major League Baseball with the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter, 42, was a case study. “I asked him how long he took to warm up (which was five-six hours) and to wind down (two-three hours), and we’re looking at 190 games a season and not 20-30 (in the case of golfers).”

There is satisfaction that his “game is not as vulnerable as last year”, but the leaner look isn’t what he’s strived for. “The children and I’ve been unwell. First, it was my son, then the daughter, and then me. The two again caught it and before I could catch it again, I ran away to be here,” he said with a chuckle.

First Published: Nov 29, 2016 23:30 IST