ORLANDO (AFP) – Tiger Woods has revamped a swing motion from younger days in hopes of recapturing the form that has brought him 14 major titles, the former world number one said Tuesday.
Woods, who returns from a four-month injury layoff when the Hero World Challenge opens Thursday, says his nagging back injuries have healed and he has been able to rely upon muscle memory and motor reflexes in working with new swing consultant Chris Como.
“It’s new but it’s old,” Woods said. “We went back to a lot of those old videos. It was interesting to see how much force I would generate with that skinny frame.”
Two months of rest gave Woods time to analyse his younger form, with help from his mother’s videotape machine, and look back in hopes of future triumphs as he chases the record 18 major wins of jack Nicklaus.
“Having an old motor path I remember has made the transition so much easier. My body feels relaxed about it,” Woods said.
“I just haven’t done it in a long time but my body is remembering it. It’s familiar. It hasn’t taken me that long to implement. I’m very pleased with my speed and the force I have. I’m able to produce speed and have range of motion. I don’t feel I’m hitting it very hard and the ball is coming off the club faster.”
Woods, who won his first major at the 1997 Masters at age 21, went away from his early swing motion because it produced knee injuries, admitting that he did not look back before because, “physically I was pretty damaged doing it.”
But swing alterations in recent years led to more back injuries, including one that led to surgery last March to ease a pinched nerve. Woods struggled through four events in a mid-season comeback he halted after the PGA Championship last August in order to rest.
“The body is great. It feels fantastic,” Woods said. “More strength. More range of motion. Now I just have to hit more balls. I still have some aches and pains like anybody else. I’m past the rehab portion of it. I’m in the strength and development portion of it.”
Woods tees off at 12.15pm (1715 GMT) Thursday in the first round of the 18-player, US$3.5million event at Isleworth alongside Australian Jason Day, also returning from a back injury.
The Challenge, which benefits Woods’ charity foundation, will be played in the Bahamas starting next year, Woods announced.
Woods admits he is uncertain when he might be ready to contend for any title, much less win his first major since the 2008 US Open.
“Am I game ready? Probably not quite as much as I would like to be,” Woods said. “It will be interesting to see on Thursday how long it takes me to get my feel back.