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Hero World Challenge: Tiger Woods prowls back to course, keen to regain winning habit

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Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Nassau (Bahamas): Golf great Tiger Woods is making a much-awaited comeback with the Hero World Challenge this week and he is both curious and excited to see how his ageing and injury battered body could tackle the task.

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The 15-time major winner will be teeing off for the first time since withdrawing from the Masters after the first two rounds in April.

The American had a subtalar fusion surgery on his right ankle two weeks after his withdrawal to deal with the arthritis caused by injuries suffered in a major car accident in 2021.

The 47-year-old, who has been playing professional golf for more than 25 years, still loves to compete and has arrived at Albany with an aim to win the tournament he hosts. “I love competing. I love playing. I miss being out here with the guys ... and the overall banter,” Woods said at the media interaction while sitting alongside Hero MotoCorp executive chairman Pawan Munjal.

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“What drives me is that I love to compete. There will come a point in time, I haven't come around to it fully yet, where I won't be able to win again ... when it comes, I will walk away,” he said.

When asked if he can win again, Woods said: “absolutely.” Woods has chosen this tournament as his comeback event for the third time, considering it acts as a springboard for the following PGA Tour season. He is targeting competing in one tournament a month On walking the course over four days, Woods sounded confident of lasting the distance.

“I'm not concerned at all about walking it. As I said, I don't have any of the ankle pain that I had with the hardware that's been placed in my foot, that's all gone.

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“The other parts of my body, my knee hurts, my back. The forces go somewhere else. It’s just like when I had my back fused, the forces have to go somewhere.

“So, it's up the chain. As I said, I'm just as curious as all of you with what's going to happen. I have not done this in a while,” said the sporting royalty.

Woods was also expectedly asked about the proposed merger between PGA Tour and Saudi-backed Liv Golf, the framework for which was announced in June.

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As a new member on the PGA Tour Policy Board, Woods' opinion on the subject is of even more significance.

He is frustrated at the slowness of the process but was optimistic that the December 31 deadline could be met.

“I'm pleased at the process and how it's evolved. I am also frustrated by some of the slowness and the governance change that we want to have happen.

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“And December 31st is coming up very quickly, so there's the timetable there that we would like to implement some of these changes that have not taken place.

“The guys, all the player directors have spent so many hours and worked tireless hours to make sure that we have the best deal for all the players that are involved, the entire PGA Tour,” said Woods, who was not pleased at all about the players not being consulted before the proposed merger announcement.

Nadal is extraordinary

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Tennis superstar and his friend Rafael Nadal has visited the Albany Golf Course in the past to watch Woods play.

Nadal too is on a comeback trail and Woods can only get an extra dose of motivation seeing his friend's steely resolve.

“Well, I think what Rafa, what he's done is extraordinary. I mean, he won the Australian Open on a broken foot. The guy's beyond tough and beyond competitive.

“He knows that Father Time is here. Every athlete faces it. Although some sports it happens faster than others, and unfortunately just like every sport, you get aged out.

“I don't want to see him go. I never wanted to see Federer go, but that's what happened. We should all enjoy watching him compete and watching him play and what he's meant to the game, what he's meant to all of us, just to see the passion of how he plays and why he plays.”

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