Tiger Woods breaks silence on fitness before return as he shares LIV surprise

Tiger Woods has admitted to being ‘rusty’ ahead of his return to golf this week, seven months after undergoing ankle surgery. While giving an update on his fitness, the 15-times major champion also expressed his surprise at the ‘framework agreement’ announced in June between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf – before sending a warning that the December 30 deadline to finalise a deal was fast approaching.

Woods has not hit a ball competitively since he was forced to withdraw from the third round of The Masters at Augusta National in April.

The 47-year-old subsequently underwent a subtalar fusion on his right ankle and has been recovering ever since. But he will return to action on Thursday when he lines up alongside fellow American Justin Thomas in the first round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in The Bahamas.

Speaking to reporters in a pre-event press conference on Tuesday, Woods admitted that he wasn’t quite sure what to expect from himself on his much-anticipated return to action.

He said: “My game feels very rusty. I haven’t played in a while. I’m not concerned about walking it [the course]. I don’t have any of that ankle pain. That’s all gone. But it’s the other parts of my body. My knee hurts, my back. The force has got to go somewhere. I’m just as curious as you to see how this goes.”

As part of his recovery, Woods has been caddying for his son Charlie at competitions and over time has found that he has been able to cope with carry to load of a golf bag alongside the work he has been doing in the gym.

He will target appearing in half a dozen tour events next season, which will inevitably include golf’s four majors.

With Woods out of the picture for seven months, reporters were given a first real chance to quiz the global sports icon on the PGA Tour’s bombshell announcement back in June, when it was confirmed that a merger with the Saudi-funded LIV Golf League had been agreed in principle.

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Ask what his reaction to the announcement was, Woods said: “I would say that my reaction was surprise. A lot of the players were taken back by it, what had happened and so quickly without any input or information about it. It was just thrown out there.

“We were very frustrated with what had happened and we took steps going forward to ensure that we [the players] were not going to be left out of the process like we were. And so part of that process was putting me on the board.

“I’m pleased with how the process has evolved but frustrated at the speed of some of the governance change. December 31st is coming very quickly and people are working tirelessly to make sure we have the best deal for the entire PGA Tour.”

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