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Woods tackles PGA National with Masters on his mind

Photo: AFP


Tiger Woods's latest comeback is in its early stages, but the former world number one is already relishing the prospect of returning to the Masters in April.

Woods counts four Masters titles among his 14 major championships, but he hasn't played at Augusta National since 2015.

"I just missed the rush of competing for a Green Jacket," he said Wednesday of his injury-enforced absences.

"I've been doing it since I was 19 years old. I've enjoyed every single challenge and having to sit out on the sidelines is not fun -- especially since I know the golf course.

"I was unfortunately so physically debilitated I could not compete," he added. "This year it's different. I'm looking forward to it."

The US PGA Tour's Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, will be Woods's third start of 2018. He missed all of 2016 with back trouble and a comeback bid in 2017 was thwarted by further back pain that led to spinal fusion surgery last April.

After making the cut at Torrey Pines in January, Woods missed the cut at Riviera Country Club last week, where he was again erratic off the tee and also struggled on the greens.

"I just need to get better at it," Woods said. "I wasn't very good on Friday, more importantly I didn't putt very good. I got exposed there on the back nine, hit three three-putts."

Woods said he hasn't made any equipment changes this week. After taking a couple of days off he returned to physical training and practice early this week but said what he really needs to get his game in shape is "tournament reps".

"I'm learning how to play tournament golf again," Woods said. "As far as catch-up mode, no I don't feel like I am. I'm looking forward to April trying to get my game solid for April and I've got some work to do."