Tiger says he would’ve been healthy for Masters this week

MIAMI (AFP) – Tiger Woods said he has recovered “night and day” from a sore back that hindered his preparations for the now-postponed Masters and misses the Augusta National showdown while quarantined.

In an interview released on Thursday by Woods sponsor GolfTV, the 15-time major champion said he is cycling more and playing tennis at times to stay fit and his back pain has eased.

“Night and day. I feel a lot better than I did then. I’ve been able to turn a negative into a positive,” Woods said.

“I’ve been able to train a lot. I’ve been able to get my body back to where I think it should be at.”

Woods, who said he would have been ready for the Masters this week, skipped last month’s Players Championship with back pain only to watch it be called off after 18 holes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s hard to unwire those circuits now. I feel a little edgy. I want to get out there. I want to compete,” Woods said.

File photo shows Tiger Woods preparing to play a shot on the fifth hole alongside caddie Joe LaCava during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. PHOTO: AFP

“I felt really alive and wired and kind of irritable. I didn’t know what was going on. I realised it was Sunday and I was supposed to be flying up.

“Subconsciously, I had already known I was supposed to be getting ready to go to be playing at the Masters this week. My body was ready to go.”

Woods is also able to golf near his home at a course open despite the coronavirus pandemic that has pushed back the Masters to November and kept him and his family isolated at home.

“I’ve been able to play some golf,” Woods said. “Medalist is still open here. Every course virtually to the south of us is closed but it remains open so it has been nice to go out there and play and hit golf balls a little bit … just get some activity and some peace of mind.”

Players can’t touch rakes or flagsticks and carts are only for drivers, but the strange thing for the reigning Masters champion is practising with no event in mind.

“It’s weird practising with no end goal to get ready for,” Woods said. “Hypothetically it could be this. Hypothetically it could be that. It seems like it changes from day to day. Week to week there’s always something new.”

Woods, a five-time Masters winner, stages putting contests with son Charlie to decide in whose closet the green jacket will reside. That’s as close as any rival will get to taking it until November.

“I guess I’ll be defending then. Hopefully that all comes about,” Woods said.

“This is not the way I wanted to keep the jacket for a longer period of time. I wanted to get out there and earn it again like I did in ‘02.”

Woods has yet to sit down and sort out what his schedule plan might be when play resumes, knowing the virus impact could delay or cancel more events.

“The way the schedule looks we’re going to be awfully busy in the fall,” Woods said. “Trying to figure all that out.

“I’m going to sit down with my team and figure out what is the best practice schedule, what are the tournaments I should play in to get ready, when should I rest, all of the things that are kind of up in the air.

“What I keep telling everyone around here is let’s just go from meal to meal and it will add up.”

Woods said dealing with back pain, which led to spinal fusion surgery that enabled him to resume his career, has helped him cope with the enforced waiting he now faces.

“To keep all our hopes up every day, sometimes it’s challenging,” Woods said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to work but so far these little mini goals have worked for us.”