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NASSAU, Bahamas (AFP) – Tiger Woods measures success by just being able to compete at the Hero World Challenge, where the former world number one returns from the longest layoff of his career on Thursday.
A back injury has sidelined the 14-time major champion since August of last year and at this event a year ago he wondered if he would ever play again.
“I’m playing again after 15 months of not competing,’’ Woods said. “It was that period of a month of two I just couldn’t get out of bed. I needed help. It was a tough time.
“It’s just two different worlds. Things have improved so much I’m able to be here. It hasn’t been easy. It has been a lot of hard work.
“Hopefully I can get out there and shoot something. I’m going to have to get after it and see what happens.’’
The 18-player invitational event hosted by Woods’ charity foundation will be played on a 7,267-yard, par-72 layout designed by Ernie Els at the Albany resort in the Bahamas featuring natural brush and sand. Bubba Watson is the defending champion.
“I’m going to try to win this thing,’’ Woods, 40, said. ‘’Bubba went low, shot 25 under. That’s going to be a tall order. I haven’t played in a while.
“But hey, I’m going to give it my best, I’m going to be focused, I’m going to do what I can do and put the ball in the correct spots, give myself looks and try to bury these putts and post scores, and get myself in that mix come Sunday afternoon.’’
Woods has not played competitively since August of 2015 at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina. He underwent back surgery a few weeks later and missed the entire 2015-16 season recovering.
“I would like to play a full schedule. That would be great. Will I be able to? That I don’t know,’’ Woods said. “I don’t know what my back is going to be doing.’’