He has suffered a long run of dire form and missed the halfway cut at the U.S. Open after an opening round of 80 last month — but Tiger Woods has no intention of giving up golf just yet.
Woods, 39, hasn’t won a major championship for eight years and has plummeted to 241st in the world ranking after an extended spell of poor form and injury problems.
But speaking ahead of the Open at St Andrews, the American — who has also been restructuring his swing — insisted he still had plenty to offer and felt his injury problems were behind him.
“I know some of you guys think I’m buried and done — but I’m still right here in front of you,” he told reporters. “I love playing. I love competing, and I love playing these events.”
Asked whether he had ever considered the possibility of retiring, he said: “Retirement? I don’t have any AARP [American Association of Retired Persons] card yet, so I’m a way from that.
“I feel like my body is finally healed up from the [back] surgery from last year.
“They say it takes you about four to six months to get back, but I’ve heard a lot of guys on tour who have had the surgery, and other athletes, say it takes over a year to get back.
“I think they were probably closer to being right. It would have been one thing if I would have gone through the procedure and then had the same golf swing, but I’ve changed the golf swing on top of that.
“So that was kind of a double-dipper where I had to fight both at the same time.”
Woods said he hoped his return to St Andrews, where he won the title in 2000 and 2005, would inspire him.
“I’m very excited to be back here at the home of golf,” he explained. “I’ve always loved this golf course from the first time I played it back in 1995. There’s something special about it.”
The 14-time major winner arrives in Scotland fresh from a better performance at the Greenbrier Classic a fortnight ago — and said he still harbored hopes of setting a new landmark in the game.
Asked whether he had abandoned the prospect of beating Jack Nicklaus’s record haul of 18 majors, he said: “No, not at all. I’m still young — I’m not 40 yet.”
Two-time PGA Tour winner Ian Poulter is among those confident that Woods can get back towards his old standards.
“We all know he’s working hard — and we expect him back to his best soon,” Poulter told CNN’s Clubhouse.
“I can only look from the outside in and expect that he is working extremely hard to get back to where he was.”