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Tiger Plays First Holes Since August

MONTGOMERY, TEXAS | Tiger Woods stood on the 18th green at Bluejack National golf course Monday afternoon, wiped the sweat off his face and thought about how good he felt to have played five holes of golf during a grand-opening ceremony for the course he designed.

Despite reports to the contrary, Woods said the five holes he played with his friend Mark O’Meara in front of several hundred invited guests were the first holes he has played since finishing the Wyndham Championship last August.

Woods is recovering from a third back surgery that had put his playing future in doubt last winter.

“I hadn’t played any holes until today,” Woods said. “I know people have said I’ve played holes back at Medalist but I haven’t. This is actually the first time I’ve played holes since Wyndham. It’s been a while.

“I’m just progressing. You saw how I was going at it today, nice and smooth. That’s harder than I have been going at it the last month. Just gradually progressing. We’re just trying to progress and I’m doing that.”

Woods looked comfortable going around the course, making full swings with his driver but showing rust in spots. He stopped short of saying when he will return to the PGA Tour, saying he needs to play himself into competitive form.

“I haven’t set any date to when I’m playing again, which is frustrating to say,” Woods said. “But to be honest with you, that’s what I’ve had to do. I’ve had to go with that mindset.”

Asked if he envisioned this progress five months ago when he sounded disheartened as the non-playing host of the Hero World Challenge, Woods said, “No way. I couldn’t imagine then feeling like I do right now. Keep improving. Keep getting better. Keep making progress. And I’m doing that.’’

Woods attended the Champions Dinner at The Masters but left immediately thereafter. That’s as close as he’s been to a PGA Tour event since finishing at Greensboro late last summer.

After setbacks following his first two back surgeries, Woods has said he will be more patient in this comeback. He is officially entered in the U.S. Open at Oakmont in June but it’s possible he could play before then. He reiterated he does not have a specific target date to return.

“Eventually I’m going to have to get to a competitive environment,” Woods said. “You can’t just drop another ball. I have to be player A all the time. Player B is always better than A. I need to get to that point and feel that way again.

“The hard part is once I get in that competitive environment to have that patience and plod my way along. I can either play a lot more at home and get my playing sense back. But tournament golf is so much different than playing at home. I have to make those adjustments. And the only way to make those adjustments is to get out there in the heat and feel it.”


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