PGA Tour

Tiger Woods admits full-time return to golf is unrealistic: 'It's an unfortunate reality'

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Tiger Woods looks on from the ninth hole during the final round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio on 19 July 2020.
Tiger Woods looks on from the ninth hole during the final round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio on 19 July 2020.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tiger Woods has ruled out making a full-time return to professional golf as he works his way back from career-threatening leg injuries.

The 15-time major winner told Golf Digest in an interview published on Monday that although he is confident of eventually making a return to the sport, he expected he would only play select tournaments from now on.

The 45-year-old former world number one suffered compound fractures in his right leg after a car he was driving in a Los Angeles suburb in February veered off the road and flipped several times.

Before the accident, Woods was already playing a reduced schedule following multiple surgeries on his back and knee over the years.

He told Golf Digest on Monday that his days as a full-time member of the PGA Tour were now effectively over, saying he now expected to "pick and choose" events in future.

"I think something that is realistic is playing the Tour one day - never full-time, ever again - but pick and choose," Woods said.

"Pick and choose a few events a year and you play around that.

"I think that's how I'm going to have to play it from now on. It's an unfortunate reality, but it's my reality. And I understand it, and I accept it."

Woods generated buzz earlier this month after posting a video on Twitter of himself hitting balls, with the caption "Making progress."

Woods, who completed a fairy tale return from back fusion surgery to capture his 15th major title at the 2019 Masters, questioned whether he had the same drive to return to the pinnacle of his sport.

"I don't have to compete and play against the best players in the world to have a great life," Woods said.

"After my back fusion, I had to climb Mount Everest one more time. I had to do it, and I did. This time around, I don't think I'll have the body to climb Mount Everest and that's OK.

"I can still participate in the game of golf. I can still, if my leg gets OK, I can still click off a tournament here or there.

"But as far as climbing the mountain again and getting all the way to the top, I don't think that's a realistic expectation of me."

Woods meanwhile revealed he had feared that he may have to have his leg amputated in the immediate aftermath of February's accident.

"There was a point in time when, I wouldn't say it was 50/50, but it was damn near there if I was going to walk out of that hospital with one leg," said Woods, who believes he is less than halfway towards a return to fitness.

"I have so far to go... I'm not even at the halfway point," he said. "I have so much more muscle development and nerve development that I have to do in my leg. At the same time, as you know, I've had five back operations. So I'm having to deal with that. So as the leg gets stronger, sometimes the back may act up. It's a tough road."

Woods added he had been forced to pace his recovery.

"Being patient and progressing at a pace that is aggressive but not over the top," he said. "Obviously when I get in the gym and I get flowing and the endorphins get going I want to go, go, go."

Woods' interview with Golf Digest comes ahead of his first public appearance since his accident at this week's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, the 20-man tournament that raises funds for his foundation.

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