Tiger Woods has admitted the combined toll of multiple operations on his battered body means he doesn’t think he “will ever feel great” again.
But the former world number one said he hoped to be able to compete for titles and majors in the future, in an interview for Dubai magazine Vision.
“I feel good, but not great,” said Woods, 41. “Granted, I don’t think I’ll ever feel great because it’s three back surgeries, four knee operations.”
The 14-time major-winner returned from a 16-month injury lay-off in December and has slumped to 674 in the world rankings.
“I am always going to be a little bit sore, it’s just the way it is. But as long as I can function and function at a good enough level then I’m fine with that,” he said.
Woods made an ill-fated attempt to play in the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic last week, pulling out with back spasms after a birdie-free first-round 77 left him 13 shots off the lead.
Woods had missed the cut a week earlier at his first US PGA tour event of the year at Torrey Pines.
He is entered for next week’s tournament at Riviera as he tries to recover form and fitness before a tilt at the season’s first major, the Masters in Augusta in early April.
“The whole plan was to get my body, mind and spirit ready for that first full week in April,” said the 14-time major winner. “You know, I’ve done it (won at Augusta) four times and I’d love to do it a fifth.”
Woods said he would carry on as long as he felt capable of winning, after a painful rehabilitation.
“There were a lot of times I didn’t think I was going to make it back. It was tough, it was more than brutal,” he said.
Woods, who has not won since 2013 and whose last major victory came in 2008, said golf was becoming a different game with the power of the “kids” dominating the world rankings, such as Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
“This is the changing of the guard. All these guys can move it,” he said. “It wasn’t important to hit the ball hard, it was more important to hit the ball flush, but now these kids tee it up and just go after it.”
But he still believes he can win again. “My generation is getting older, but if I’m teeing up the goal’s to win it,” said Woods.
“That doesn’t change if I’m injured, coming off an injury, playing well or I’m playing poorly. If I’m in the event, it’s to win the event.”