Ko hopes 'role model' Tiger will bounce back

"No matter what Tiger is going through right now, Tiger will always be Tiger. Tiger grew the game, there's a lot of players that are playing on tour or are starting the game because of Tiger," said the New Zealander, who turned pro when she was 16.

Lydia Ko of New Zealand attends a press conference during practice for the HSBC Women's Champions at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore.   -  Getty Images,

Women's world number one Lydia Ko paid tribute to her "role model" Tiger Woods on Tuesday, expressing hope that the golf legend will recover from injury and rejoin the tour.

Speaking to AFP before the HSBC Women's Champions tournament in Singapore, the 18-year-old said that Woods has been a top ambassador for the sport.

"No matter what Tiger is going through right now, Tiger will always be Tiger. Tiger grew the game, there's a lot of players that are playing on tour or are starting the game because of Tiger," said the New Zealander, who turned pro when she was 16.

Ko became the youngest player of either gender to take the world number one spot last year at 17 years of age, eclipsing Woods' record by almost four years.

Ko, who said she has yet to watch Woods play live, described him as "amazing" in his prime.





"He's been a great role model, he still is... I think what he's done to grow the game is fantastic and hopefully he'll be able to get healthy and get back on the tour," she added.

Her comments follow speculation that Woods' back condition, which he has undergone several surgeries for, had worsened and his career could be over.

The 14-time Major champion has not played competitive golf since August last year, when he tied for 10th at the Wyndham Championship.

The American, who turned 40 in December, had microdiscectomy surgery in March 2014 to treat a herniated disc.

He underwent a second procedure in September last year to deal with a disc fragment that was pinching a nerve, and six weeks later underwent another procedure to address continuing discomfort.

Woods last week posted a video on Twitter that showed him hitting balls in a golf simulator.