The good news for golf fans is that Tiger Woods is ready to compete again, less than three months after having back surgery. The bad news for his fellow golfers on tour is Woods says he hasn't felt this good in more than two years.
The 14-time major winner already has missed the Masters and the U.S. Open this season. Woods had targeted to return at the British Open in July. His participation in the Quicken Loans National at Congressional, which begins Thursday, means Woods has healed sufficiently to compete.
"Well, I'm right here," Woods joked when asked where he was in his comeback, adding that it has been an "interesting road" and "quite a tedious little process."
Woods admitted that his goals were to be healthy enough to play at the British Open and he "probably would not" have played this week if he didn't have a connection to the tournament. The tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.
"Well, I'm actually probably ahead of schedule. We all thought that it was going to be -- the British Open would be my first event back. But I healed fast," Woods said.
Woods said it's been a while since he has felt this healthy. "It's been a very, very long time. Probably a good two years since I've felt this way," explained the world's No. 5 ranked golfer.
Woods, who has had four surgeries to his left knee along with Achilles, elbow and neck problems, said his latest back problems were a wake-up call to take better care of himself and listen to his body.
"That is one thing I have learned stubbornly over the years, particularly with this injury," he added. "This is very different than pushing through my knee injuries in the past -- nerve impingement is no joke."
Woods' return is being greeted by other golfers with open arms.
"Tiger is the driving force behind our game and we need him playing and we need him playing well," Brandt Snedeker told USA Today. "We've missed him out here. Obviously, the TV ratings haven't been where they need to be the last six months and he's a large part to that. More than that, he brings in the casual fan, which we haven't had the last few months."
One contemporary warned not to expect too much from Woods after the layoff.
"You can have your game on the range, but it might take a week or two weeks or having a scorecard in your hand for five or six rounds," Justin Rose said. "Sometimes it takes time to get the scoring head back on; to be able to up-and-down it and keep momentum going. ...There are key points in a round that I think you only get better at by playing and getting tournament sharp."