• Golf

Tiger: I haven't hit a ball in five weeks

Bob Harig
September 15, 2014
Tiger Woods says his strength has returned but not his swing © Getty Images

His strength has returned after five weeks away from golf. Now Tiger Woods is looking for the same from his swing.

Woods said on Monday that he has yet to hit golf balls since missing the cut at the US PGA Championship on August 8, all part of a plan to work on his strength and fitness after a recurrence of back issues that first led to surgery on March 31.

"I haven't swung a golf club yet," Woods said at a news conference to promote his annual tournament, now called the Hero World Challenge. "I've just been shadow swinging without a club, but I've been busting my butt in the gym pretty hard.

"I've got my strength back, which is nice. Now the next goal is to get my explosiveness and my fast twitch going, and that's the next phase of my training."

Woods also said he has made no decisions on hiring a coach. Woods parted ways with his instructor of four years, Sean Foley, a few weeks ago. He left open the possibility of continuing without a coach.

Woods, 38, has not played since missing the cut at the US PGA Championship. That was just his eighth tournament of 2014, an aborted season due to surgery to alleviate a disk problem in his back.

He returned for four events but had to withdraw during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational because of a different back issue. He came back the next week at the US PGA but was clearly in distress and was unable to play well enough to make it to the weekend.

A week later, Woods decided he would shut it down for the rest of the year, with his return scheduled for the December 4-7 World Challenge at Isleworth, where he used to live and practice.

"I felt good enough to do it, and the only unfortunate part is I couldn't maintain the conditioning," he said. "I wasn't as conditioned as I needed to be. So as the tournament would wear on, I would get more and more fatigued and tired, and I wasn't as explosive, I wasn't as strong because I couldn't burn the candle at both ends. I couldn't lift the weights that I'm used to or accustomed to lifting as well as playing and practicing.

"I just couldn't do all of it at the same time. Eventually the game started to deteriorate a little bit because physically I wasn't in good enough shape to maintain it."

Woods introduced Hero MotoCorp as the sponsor of his annual tournament, which is in its 16th year but will be played in Florida for the first time. The relationship with the India-based company was born when Woods went to Delhi Golf Club in February for an exhibition with Hero executives.

It was supposed to be a small gathering, but thousands of spectators lined up to watch the 18-hole exhibition.

"That's the last good round I played all year," Woods quipped. "I shot 63 that day."

The World Challenge is an unofficial event from which Woods donates all of his prize money to his foundation, but it offers World Ranking points and is open only to players ranked in the top 50. Among those who are expected to play are Masters champion Bubba Watson as well as Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk and FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel.

Defending champion Zach Johnson, who defeated Woods in a play-off last year at Sherwood Country Club in California, will also return.

Although he hasn't hit any shots, Woods said there have been no setbacks since the US PGA. His plan is to see how he fares in December and go from there.

"I'm curious how I'm going to be feeling, how I'm going to be playing," Woods said. "And if I don't have any setbacks or any pain, then I foresee a very full schedule next year."

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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