SYDNEY (Reuters) – Tiger Woods is waking up “pain free” for the first time in three years ahead of his return to golf at next week’s Hero World Challenge, his fellow former world number one Jason Day said on Wednesday.
Woods, who has not played competitive golf for 10 months as he recovers from a fourth operation on his back in three years, will be making his comeback next week at his own tournament in Albany, Bahamas.
“I did talk to him and he did say it’s the best he’s ever felt in three years, he doesn’t wake up with pain anymore, which is great,” Day said on Wednesday ahead of the Australian Open.
“I totally understand where he’s coming from because sometimes I wake up and it takes me about 10 minutes to get out of bed. For him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating.”
The winner of five tournaments in 2013, 41-year-old Woods has played just 19 events since.
The 14-times major champion made a previous comeback at the Hero World Challenge last year after nearly 16 months on the sidelines, finishing 15th in a final field of 17.
He showed flashes of brilliance but struggled with accuracy.
Woods returned to the PGA Tour in January but missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open before shooting an opening-round 77 a week later at the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic and withdrawing.
In April, he said he had undergone a fourth operation on his back in three years.
Australian Day, now world number 12 after a lean spell of his own with no wins this year, said the Hero World Challenge was the perfect tournament for Woods to make his return.
“With regards to him playing next week, there’s no pressure,” Day added.
“It’s an 18-man field, there’s no cut … it’s obviously a tournament that suits him, that he likes.
“He says he’s ready and I’m hoping he is. From what he says, he’s been hitting it long and if he is hitting it long and straight, it’s going to be tough for us.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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