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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Tiger Woods optimistic of 'great things' ahead for him for 2018

The American has only played three events since August 2015 but has been encouraged by performance in Barbados.

Tiger Woods is optimistic he can have a good 2018. Dante Carrer / AP Photo
Tiger Woods is optimistic he can have a good 2018. Dante Carrer / AP Photo

Tiger Woods hopes he can achieve "something big" in the next phase of his playing career as he targets tournament success in the new year.

A promising return to action at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas four weeks ago indicated the 14-time major winner may become a title contender again in the autumn of his career.

Woods, who turns 42 on Saturday, had started just three events since August 2015 before launching his latest comeback after spinal fusion surgery.

Following four back operations in the space of three years, Woods is guarded about how his body will hold up to week-to-week golf on the PGA Tour.

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But he appears to have grounds for optimism as he looks ahead to 2018, and back on the past 12 months.

"It's been a year filled with ups and downs, but I am very optimistic about 2018 and looking forward to great things on and off the golf course," he wrote on his personal website.

"I was very encouraged by my performance at the Hero World Challenge, and hope it was the start of something big. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect after being away from competitive golf for 10 months and came away excited about my health and my game."

Woods briefly led the tournament midway through the second round before a 75 the next day ended his trophy challenge.

There was enough about his performance to suggest the old magic remains in his game, and Woods added: "I can't express in words how great it felt to be back in the arena and how much I missed it."

He explained it was necessary to take a week off golf and focus on strength work after that tournament, but a recent practice round with US PGA champion Justin Thomas proved enjoyable, although no substitute for competing.

That is where Woods wants to focus his energy, having been for so much of his career the man to beat wherever he shows up.

But the former No 1 has plenty to prove, even to himself. He currently sits 656th in the rankings.

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"I'm continuing to progress and trying to get strong enough to where I can handle a workload again," Woods wrote.

"I would love to play a full schedule in 2018. What that entails, including back-to-back events, I don't know. I just have to continue to work on my body and game and see where I pan out.

"I wish I knew where I was going to play and when I was going to play - it's a lot easier to prep for that - but we really don't know."

He parted company with swing coach Chris Como shortly before Christmas and recognises his action has changed due to the toll golf has taken on his body, but Woods "was surprised at how explosive" his game was in the Bahamas.

He reflected, in the end-of-year assessment, on when the effect of surgery meant he struggled to get out of bed.

Woods added: "I appreciate competitive golf now more than I ever have."

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