Tiger Woods has admitted fearing he would never win another golf tournament due to his chronic back injuries.
Woods claimed the Tour Championship on Sunday for his first tournament win since August 2013, and his 80th PGA Tour title.
The 42-year-old languished as low as 1,199 in golf’s world rankings less than a year ago following spinal fusion surgery, but completed a remarkable comeback in Atlanta at the weekend.
The 14-time major champion warmed up for this weekend’s Ryder Cup in style, before conceding his injury woes had him worried he may never mount a credible return to the sport’s summit.
“It means a lot more to me now in the sense because I didn’t know if I’d ever be out here again playing – doing this again,” said Woods.
“I don’t know, 20 years ago, hell, I thought I was going to play for another 30 years. That’s just the way golf is. You can play until you’re 70 years old.
“You see these guys on the Champions Tour playing tournament golf at 70.
“Then there was a point in time I didn’t know if I’d ever do this again.
“So yeah, I appreciate it a little bit more than I did because I don’t take it for granted that I’m going to have another decade, two decades in my future of playing golf at this level.”
Justin Rose pipped Woods to the overall FedEx Cup title, with the two men gearing up to face off when the Ryder Cup starts in Paris on Friday.
Woods underwent his third surgery in 19 months in April 2017 in a bid to cure pain in his back and leg, at that point fearing he may never be able to play golf again.
Asked whether the reaction to his victory might break the internet, Woods chose to poke fun at both his age and longevity.
“Well, when I came out here, there was no internet,” joked Woods, in a nod to a career that kick-started with his 1997 US Masters triumph.
Chronicling his injury problems, Woods continued: “Probably the low point was not knowing if I’d ever be able to live pain-free again; am I going to be able to sit, stand, walk, lay down without feeling the pain that I was in.
“I just didn’t want to live that way. This is how the rest of my life is going to be? It’s going to be a tough rest of my life.
“And so, I was beyond playing. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t lay down without feeling the pain in my back and my leg.
“That was a pretty low point for a very long time.
“So just to be able to compete and play again this year, that’s a hell of a comeback.
“Some of the people that are very close to me, they’ve seen what I’ve gone through. Some of the players have seen what I’ve gone through, and they know how hard it was just to get back to playing golf again.
“Forget the elite level, just be able to play golf again and enjoy being with my kids and living that life.
“And then lo and behold, I’m able to do this and win a golf tournament.
“To be able to compete and play again, yes. To win, that’s another level.
“I’m just enjoying being able to do this again. I didn’t know I was going to do this again.”