Tiger 'nervous' for return, weighs equipment decisions

For years, Tiger Woods has been recognised with Nike-manufactured golf clubs and balls, but he, like so many others affected by the sportswear giant's decision to stop producing the equipment will be playing with a number of different brands in his return.

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Woods said he still had work to do on his fitness as he prepares for his return.

Tiger Woods will finally be back in action at the Hero World Challenge, and the former world number one will be sporting some unfamiliar equipment.

For years, Woods has been recognised with Nike-manufactured golf clubs and balls, but he, like so many others affected by the sportswear giant's decision to stop producing the equipment, will be playing with a number of different brands in his return as he tries to determine preferences.

Woods will stick with Nike irons, but he still has not decided on his woods, though TaylorMade seems to be the leader. The 14-time major champion has settled on a golf ball, though, choosing Bridgestone for the Hero World Challenge.

"The most important thing is the ball,'' Woods said Sunday in the Bahamas, via ESPN. "Once you find a ball, then you can work around everything else. The ball is number one. The most important club in the bag is the ball.''

Despite becoming one of the most feared and accomplished golfers during the 1990s and early 2000s, Woods still gets nervous.

"I'm nervous for every tournament I play in, whether it's after a layoff, or six in a row, or a major,'' he said. "I care. If I care, I'm nervous. And it's good to be that way. To have that nervous energy and channel it into aggression, into focus, concentration, that's good stuff. If I wasn't nervous, that would mean I didn't care. I don't want to be out there flat.''

Woods said he still had work to do on his fitness as he prepares for his return. "It's weird to say, but I have to get my walking legs,'' Woods said.

"It's a five-mile walk. You forget what it feels like to be in golf shoes versus tennis shoes. To be on an uneven lie versus a flat lie. I can walk for two or three hours on a treadmill and it's not the same as walking on a golf course. It's so different, the standing around [between shots].

"The rhythm of playing in a golf cart versus walking and playing. I had forgotten that because I had been away for over a year."

Opta Stats

- If Woods tees it up at the Hero World Challenge, it will have been exactly 466 days since his last competitive appearance, on August 23, 2015 at the Wyndham Championship when he finished tied-10th. It will also be his first tournament since he turned 40 last December.

- This 466-day period will have been his longest lay-off since he turned professional in 1996. 

- He is ranked number 898 (as of November 28) in the world, his lowest ranking since turning professional in 1996.

- Woods holds the record for most weeks at number one in the world: 683. That is the equivalent of 13 years at the top.

- His last competitive victory was more than three years ago – in August 2013 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

- Woods has won 14 majors but none since the 2008 U.S. Open. Only Jack Nicklaus has won more (18).

- Woods is one of five players (along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus) to have won all four professional major championships in his career.

- Just 8.4 per cent of golf majors have been won by players aged 40 or over (37 out of 439). Since 2000, only five players have completed that feat: Vijay Singh, Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson.

- Woods has also won 79 PGA Tour events, second only to Sam Snead (82), and six ahead of Nicklaus (73).

- Woods holds the all-time PGA Tour record for most consecutive cuts made, with 142. The streak started in 1998 and ended in 2005.