Woods relishing end to frustrating Augusta absence

Having been frustrated by his absence from Augusta, Tiger Woods is excited ahead of his return to the course for the Masters.

Tiger Woods during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational   -  Getty Images

Tiger Woods is relishing playing at the Masters for the first time in three years, having made further impressive progress in his comeback at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The 42-year-old's wait for a first win since 2013 continued at Bay Hill but, after finishing tied-second at the Valspar Championship, his tied-fifth performance in Florida in a field of supreme quality was another huge step forward in his bid to return to the top.

Successive rounds of 69 over the weekend saw the American finish 10 under par, eight strokes behind winner Rory McIlroy.

A four-time winner of the green jacket, Woods' revival has led him to be placed among the favourites for glory at Augusta, where he finished tied for 17th in his last appearance at the season-opening major in 2015.

Speaking about his return to the Georgia course, Woods told a post-tournament media conference: "I'm looking forward to it. I miss playing there, I've been there for the dinner and as great as that is, it's frustrating knowing that I'm, I would have to say, young enough to play the event, where some of the other champions are not, and I just have not been able to physically do it, which is difficult.

"I've had a lot of success there, too, so really looking forward to getting up there and doing a bit of work and getting a feel for the golf course and basically feel for playing that style of golf again."

His glittering career having been derailed by a series of surgeries on his back, Woods is working on his swing without a coach, and is using a simplistic approach akin to that of a baseball player.

"A lot of it is feel. As I said to you guys before, I don't know anyone who has had a lower back fusion L-5, S-1 who can go north of 120 miles an hour," he added.

"So it's really no one I can go to on something like that. I'm very young to have this surgery. The average age is 58 and I was pretty young at 41.

"So I had to do this on feel and I still am. The good news is I'm trusting my hands, my hands are telling me what to do. It's just like baseball, you're in the box and you just trust your hands. That's how I grew up playing and it's what I'm doing right now."

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