TIGER WOODS finally set foot on a golf course again yesterday – and immediately raised new fears about his fitness for this week’s Open.
Woods, 43, has been taking it easy since the final round of the US Open on June 16 but looked far from refreshed in a practice round at Portrush a few hours after flying over from Florida.
Despite the bright sunshine he was wearing plenty of layers, donning with a log sleeved shirt and a body warmer, while playing partner Patrick Reed settled for a short sleeved polo shirt.
Woods looked stiff and sluggish, just as he did when he missed the cut at the USPGA – a couple of months after his memorable Masters victory – suggesting his back problems are still a concern despite four operations.
But Woods insisted: his limited schedule was not down to health worries.
He said: “The break is always great for my golf, especially now.
“I said last year I wouldn’t be playing as much this year, and it’s going to turn out that way.
“I went on a two week holiday to Thailand straight after the US Open with my mum and the kids, and I did not touch a golf club. Absolutely zero.
“Then I started to prepare for this week. Nothing has changed.
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“The only difference is that certain days I can do more than others.”
Woods played 19 times last year after returning from an operation to fuse two vertebrae together.
The Open will be only his tenth tournament this year, and just the fourth since he won a fifth green jacket in April.