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Tiger Woods entering ‘phase two’ on PGA Tour return at Hero World Challenge

Tiger Woods

Woods has been world number one for a total of 683 weeks, but has not occupied top spot since May 2014

Tiger Woods says he is setting up for “phase two” of his life as he returns to the PGA Tour for the first time in 15 months at the Hero World Challenge.

The 40-year-old, who has fallen to 898th in the world, will take part in the 18-man tournament in the Bahamas, which begins on Thursday.

Woods has not played on the PGA Tour since August 2015, twice undergoing surgery due to ongoing back problems.

“I want to play for a lifetime, but I can’t compete for a lifetime,” he said.

Woods, who has spent time during his injury lay-off working on other business ventures, added: “I call it phase two, because I can’t play this game forever at a competitive high level.

“Would I love to? Yes. Guys have played into their 70s and 80s but they’re not competing at a world-class level.”

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However, Woods, who will head out alongside fellow American Patrick Reed, says he will be targeting a win at Albany this weekend.

“They’re going to try and beat me. I want to beat them, too,” he added. “If I enter an event, I’m going to try and win the thing. I know that’s a tall order, but the mindset is still there.”

A vice-captain for the United States team that won the Ryder Cup in October, Woods missed the whole of the 2015-16 season through injury.

The 14-time major champion played in 11 tournaments the previous season, with his last appearance coming at the 2015 Wyndham Championship where he tied for 10th.

Woods, who has won 79 titles on the PGA Tour, has not had a tournament victory anywhere since 2013 and his title drought in the major championships dates back to 2008.

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“To get back out here at this level has been a challenge,” added Woods. “A lot of hard work and an inordinate amount of patience, which is not one of my hallmarks.

“It’s allowed me to get to this point where I am able to compete and able to play. I haven’t had adrenaline in my system for a while. As of right now, I’m ready to go.”

Woods, whose charity foundation owns the event, called the sport a “fraternity” and said his fellow professionals have helped aid his return “in any way possible”.

He was due to play in the Safeway Open in California last month, but delayed his comeback after claiming his game was “vulnerable”.

“As a competitive athlete it killed me inside,” said Woods about his withdrawal.

“I wanted to compete. I’d waited at the time for 13 months – let’s be patient, a little easier on myself, smarter.

“It gave me a couple more months to get stronger.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/golf/38148368