Speaking to the media at Augusta National, the 15-time Major champion confirmed that providing he still feels good, he is planning to make his first professional appearance since obtaining serious injuries in an accident 14 months ago.
“Well, as of right now, I feel like I’m going to play,” said Woods.
"I'm going to play nine more holes tomorrow. My recovery has been good. I've been very excited about how I've recovered each and every day."
Rumours around Woods’ return have been rife ever since he appeared at the PNC Championship alongside his son Charlie in December, but he remained non-committal on his plans to return to competition as recently as the Genesis Invitational in February.
Speculation was fuelled further when he played a practice round at Augusta National last week, and after making his return to the course on Sunday, Woods informed media that he would make a ‘game-time decision’ on whether he would tee it up on Thursday.
That is still the case for Woods, but his comments during Tuesday’s press conference indicated he is feeling confident in his form ahead of the 25th anniversary of his first Masters victory in 1997.
And while he has never been a player afraid of making bold statements, Woods quite quickly put to bed any remaining doubt over how purposeful his intentions are on his return.
Asked if he believes he could win this week, he simply replied: “I do.”
When questioned, Tiger elaborated that his concern is not his game, only whether he can handle the undulations of Augusta National.
“I can hit it just fine. I don't have any qualms about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint. It's now walking is the hard part. This is normally not an easy walk to begin with. Now given the conditions that my leg is in, it gets even more difficult.
“You know, 72 holes is a long road, and it's going to be a tough challenge and a challenge that I'm up for.
“I love competing, and I feel like if I can still compete at the highest level, I'm going to, and if I feel like I can still win, I'm going to play. But if I feel like I can't, then you won't see me out here. You guys know me better than that.
“I don't show up to an event unless I think I can win it. So that's the attitude I've had. There will be a day when it won't happen, and I'll know when that is, but physically the challenge this week is I don't have to worry about the ball striking or the game of golf, it's actually just the hills out here. That's going to be the challenge, and it's going to be a challenge of a major marathon.
“When I decide to hang it up when I feel like I can't win anymore, then that will be it. But I feel like I can still do it, and I feel like I still have the hands to do it, the body's moving good enough. I've been in worse situations and played and won tournaments. Now, I haven't been in situations like this where I've had to walk and endure what I'm going to try and endure, that's going to be different. It's a different challenge.
“How am I going to get all the swelling out and recover for the next day. My team has been fantastic and worked very hard. So we've got another day of nine more holes and then come game time.”
Woods’ record-breaking career has been plagued with injury set-backs, but he has been no stranger to making successful comebacks on the biggest stage. His most recent Major triumph at the 2019 Masters Tournament was the epitome of that, and it appears even Tiger is hoping to draw on those past experiences of overcoming adversity as inspiration for this week.
“I think that the fact that I was able to get myself here to this point is a success, and now that I am playing, now that everything is focused on how do I get myself into the position where I'm on that back nine on Sunday with a chance? Just like I did a few years ago.
“But my back surgeries that I've had before and the stuff I had to play through, even going back to the U.S. Open when my leg was a little bit busted, those are all times that I can draw upon where I was successful, how I've learned to block things out and focus on what I need to focus on. That's certainly going to be the challenge this week.”