BETHESDA, Md. >> Tiger Woods still doesn’t know when he’ll return. For a while, he didn’t know whether he would return at all.
Woods said Monday his back injury became so debilitating this year it caused him to doubt his ability to play golf again.
“Forget about playing golf at the highest level. I couldn’t get out of bed,” Woods said. “I was certainly doubtful at that point. What’s it going to feel like? Am I going to be pain free? Am I going to be able to actually do this again, where I can to get out of bed, and go out there and play with my kids and play golf? All those things were up in the air.”
Woods said the doubt was erased after microdiscectomy surgery March 31. He said the procedure, which relieved pain from a pinched nerve, provided immediate relief, although he said there’s still “no timetable” for his return to golf — or even for taking a full swing. As of now, he remains limited to chipping and putting.
“It’s not going to be up to me whether I play or not, it’s going to be up to my docs,” Woods said. “Obviously, I want to play now.”
Speaking at Congressional Country Club in his role as host of next month’s Quicken Loans National, Woods even joked that he wished he could join reporters on the course for their media day rounds — “even though I don’t like to play with you guys.”
But he offered no hint that he might be anything more than an onlooker for the Quicken Loans tournament on June 26-29 — or at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst two weeks earlier. He’s already missed the Masters for the first time.
To hear Woods, known for unyielding resolve, give voice to doubts is certainly unusual. But this injury is different from those he has endured before. He said rehab has been tedious and it’s a challenge simply not to join in when his children want to play sports.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said, “I am damn good at video games.”
When Woods does return, he’ll resume his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories. Woods, 38, sounded as if the surgery has given him a new lease to keep playing for a good while.
“I would like to, as all athletes, go out on my own terms,” Woods said. “And ultimately I want to continue playing at an elite level as long as I deem I want to do it. For some guys it’s in their 60s and 70s, and other guys it’s in their 40s and 50s.
“But prior to the surgery, I didn’t think I would have much of a playing career if I felt like this. … Now that I’ve had the procedure, I’m excited about what the prospects hold, and if I’m able to feel this way, I’m excited about my career. I’m able to do what I want to do for as long as I want to.”