x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Tiger Woods cautious about his return to golf

The former world No 1 will only play if he is 100 per cent, but has not ruled out an appearance at the British Open in two weeks time.

Tiger Woods has not hit a golf ball in vain since mid-May when he pulled out of The Players Championship.
Tiger Woods has not hit a golf ball in vain since mid-May when he pulled out of The Players Championship.

Tiger Woods will play at the British Open only if he feels he can win it — and he has not hit a single shot for almost seven weeks.

The former world No 1, who won the 2008 US Open with a broken leg and injured knee, is not going to return until he is fully ready.

But that does not yet mean he has ruled out crossing the Atlantic to be at Royal St George's in a fortnight's time, although the odds on it appear to be lengthening all the time.

Woods, who aggravated knee and Achilles injuries at The Players Championship in mid-May, said last night: "I want to be out there playing, but I'm just not quite ready yet.

"Everything is progressing. Both the knee and the Achilles are getting better, but I haven't hit any golf balls yet.

"It was a borderline call whether I should have played The Players. I wasn't quite 100 per cent and unfortunately I hurt myself there.

"This time around it's different - I'm setting no timetable. I'm just going to learn my lesson and come back when I'm 100 per cent.

"I don't know when that is going to be. I am getting stronger, but I don't know about the British. I'm just playing it by ear right now.

"I've played through injuries before, I've played hurt, I've played in pain - that's just part of playing sports - but I'm not going to do that again.

"I'm being smarter this time. I broke my leg and still played - that's not exactly smart.

"I know what the progression's going to be, just like it was in '08. Putting, then chipping, then pitching, eventually getting to wedges. It's also dependent on how it all feels on a daily basis.

"Obviously we're trying to push it every day and challenge my leg every day and see how it responds."

Woods insists there is no reason yet to call off his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' 18-major record. He has not moved from 14 for the past three years.

"Absolutely not," he said firmly. "He won when he was 46, right?

"I've still got some time and on top of that we're about the same pace I believe in years on Tour and majors won.

"I feel pretty confident of what my future holds and very excited about it. I'm 35, I'm not 65 - I've still got some years ahead of me.

"Golf is unlike any other sport. I mean, [Tom] Watson was 59 when he almost won [the 2009 British Open]?

"We can play for a very long time. What I would like to do is play this game for as long as I want to and I feel like my best years are still ahead of me.

"I just need to get out there and practice and then implement it and put it all together."

On Rory McIlroy's eight-shot US Open victory, he added: "That was pretty good, wasn't it? That was some seriously good playing.

"He had softer conditions and he was able to go low, but also was able to continue pushing it.

"That's what's fun when you have a lead, to keep building on it and keep pushing. That was very impressive playing - to do that at a US Open to be that aggressive the entire time, that was cool to watch."