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December, 4, 2016

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Tiger Woods just happy to be playing golf again

NASSAU, Bahamas -- This might be one time that Tiger Woods doesn't measure success on the golf course by the score on his card.

He measured it with three words Tuesday: "I'm playing again."

There were times during his 15 months away from golf that Woods wasn't entirely sure that would be the case. He said that when he was at the Hero World Challenge last year, he needed help just to climb out of bed. At an outdoor party at Albany Golf Club, he would mingle for a few minutes and then sit on a stone bench.

He spent more time looking back than looking forward, saying at one point that anything else he achieved in golf would be "gravy."

'It's a tall order'

And now he can't wait to get started on Thursday.

The 15-month break to heal following back surgeries is the longest he has been away from golf. Woods was a mixture of optimism and reality about his return. He talked about having all the shots he needs to compete against a field that includes 17 players from the top 40 and Woods, the tournament host who is at a career-low No. 898. He is playing, so he said he wants to win. The outlook is no different.

He also noted that Bubba Watson won last year at 25-under par, and it probably will take something around that to win.

"I know that's a tall order since I've been away from the game for so long and I've made a lot of different changes in my game," he said. "Physically and also equipment, practice schedules, training, all that has evolved. The mindset of competing hasn't. That is to go out there and try to beat these guys."

He still is working with swing coach Chris Como, whom he brought on two years ago. Now that Nike is out of the equipment business, Woods is using a TaylorMade driver and fairway metals, a Bridgestone golf ball and his old Scotty Cameron putter that he used to win all but one of his 14 majors.

But it starts with playing.

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