Admitting that he has returned too soon at times for previous injuries, Tiger Woods said Wednesday during a news conference for a golf course project in Texas that he is feeling better but offered no timetable on his return to competitive golf.
"I'm progressing slowly, I take it day by day," Woods said in Montgomery, Texas, where he opened a 10-hole short course at his BlueJack National design. "That's the frustrating part. There is no timetable."
Woods said he is chipping and putting and has hit nothing longer than a 9-iron. He has yet to play a full hole of golf since underdoing his latest back procedure on Oct. 28.
He acknowledged that he has returned too soon from previous injuries and that "it's cost me months and years because of it.
"The big thing right now is trying to get stronger and more flexible,'' Woods wrote on his website earlier Wednesday, prior to the news conference. "Sitting out as long as I did, some weakening occurred, and I have a lot of work ahead of me.
"While there is no timetable on my return to competitive golf, I want to play this game at the highest level again. In order to do that, I have to get healthy.''
Woods has not played competitively in more than six months. The 14-time major champion's rehabilitation has been kept mostly quiet until the past week, when a couple of reports suggested his recovery was going poorly.
But Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, strongly denied those reports on Feb. 22 and then two days later the golfer posted a 13-second video on Twitter in which he was shown hitting a 9-iron on a golf simulator. Steinberg said that Woods had worked up to hitting that club, along with chipping and putting, at that point.
"As I announced last week, I am starting to feel a lot better,'' Woods wrote. "I have been chipping and putting at home and recently started hitting 9-irons.''
Woods has a couple of shorts holes at his home in Jupiter, Florida. He said he has been having 3-hole chipping contests with his son, Charlie, with the loser having to do push-ups.
The last time Woods played in a tournament, he tied for 10th in the Wyndham Championship in August. In mid-September, however, he had his second back surgery -- he had his first on March 31, 2014 -- and then had another undisclosed type of back surgery on Oct. 28.
When Woods appeared at the tournament he hosts, the Hero World Challenge in December, he appeared in discomfort and spoke of seeing "no light at the end of the tunnel'' as far as his return. At that point, he had not been cleared to do any rehabilitation.
"I couldn't play with my kids," he said during the news conference. "I wasn't able to throw and play catch with my son. These were the things I couldn't do. Can I do them now? Yeah. Am I sprinting back and forth with them? No. I can't keep up with them. They're out running and doing things I can't do. But I'm getting there. I'm able to participate more in their lives. Part of that is playing golf, and going out there chipping and putting with Charlie. Having him beat me. It's been tough at times, but it's been a lot of fun."
With the Masters now just five weeks away, playing the year's first major would seem to be a long shot. A four-time winner of the tournament, Woods missed it two years ago following his first back surgery but tied for 17th last year.
"Just need to take it day by day," he said. "I just need to keep the momentum going. Hopefully I can continue doing that and then eventually get out here. Hopefully sooner than later."
Whether that is weeks or months he could not say, either.
"I don't know," he said. "In December I wasn't able to participate with my kids and do things I like to do with them. Am I doing that right now, a lot more but still not all the way there yet. And eventually it's getting to an elite level and playing out here with the guys. That's going to take some work.
"I haven't hit anything more than a 9-iron. ... Just been chipping and putting and progressing slowly. I still have to get stronger. I still have to get more flexible. There's still a lot I have to do."