Woods focused on enjoying return to form
Tiger Woods is determined to keep enjoyment levels high as he seeks to continue his recent resurgence at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational.
After a miserable few years punctuated by four back surgeries, Woods has gradually returned to form in 2018 and generated huge excitement last time out on his way to a second-placed finish at the Valspar Championship.
The 14-time major champion, whose last PGA Tour victory came in 2013, now turns his attention to Bay Hill and a tournament he has won eight times.
Asked in a news conference what his expectations were this week, Woods replied: "Just keep getting better, just keep making mental improvements ... and I think I've done that [so far].
"Each and every week I've learned from what I've done and more importantly, I'm learning my body. I'm learning how I can swing it and not swing it. These are all things that are new.
"I'm still learning. I'm getting a lot better at it, which is nice, and I think you're starting to see the fruits of that now, the little tweaks I've made, and I'm excited about it.
"What I keep saying is, 'Just enjoy this'. If you would have asked me at the Presidents Cup last year [whether I would play on Tour again], I didn't know."
Wow, what an amazing week...people, atmosphere, adrenaline, back nine on Sunday, man I’ve missed this. Getting better. Thank you for all the support!— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) March 12, 2018
Woods' short game has looked increasingly sharp, something he attributes to finally being free of back pain.
"The least amount of pain I felt was hitting a driver. It was any time I bent over that far to hit a putt or a chip, that my back pain was off the charts," he explained.
"So I couldn't chip, I couldn't putt. That was the hard part. Your scoring is around the greens and I wasn't able to practice, so that part was difficult. Now that I'm feeling better, I'm able to dedicate some time to it again."
There was widespread surprise at the Valspar Championship when Woods, who will play alongside Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama in the first two rounds this week, recorded the fastest clubhouse speed seen on the PGA Tour this season with one of his drives.
"If I knew [how that happened], I would tell you," said the 42-year-old with a grin. "I don't know! It just happened.
"I went through a number of years where I just couldn't get speed. Now all of a sudden, it's just happening.
"What we think, amongst my inner circle, is that I was living in so much pain, I didn't know it. And I was going through that slide of just protecting it, playing around it. Now I don't feel like I'm swinging very hard, but it's producing some incredible speeds, which I'm not against.
"I finally have got to a point where my back is good enough, where I can let my hands tell me what to do. I don't have those [back] issues anymore, so I can trust my hands again. I've gone back to a lot of the stuff I used to do with my dad and how he first taught me how to play golf."