Tiger Woods was on the practice range from sunrise to sunset almost every day for the past two months in a successful effort to return to this week’s Masters from a self-imposed hiatus from competitive golf.
"I worked my ass off," Woods, who showed up at Augusta on Monday relaxed and loose, said during a Tuesday press conference.
"That's the easiest way to kind of describe it. I worked hard. People would never understand how much work I put into it to come back and do this again," said Woods, who took a break from the PGA Tour in February after 47 holes of awful golf to start the 2015 season. "It was sun up to sun down. Whenever I had time, free time, the kids were asleep I'd still be doing it … It was a lot of work."
Woods left no doubt that he believed his nonstop practice sessions had him prepared to continue his chase of Jack Nicklaus’ mark of 18 major titles at the men’s first major of the year.
"Yes," he responded crisply before the interlocutor had a chance to finish asking if Tiger would play this week even if it were not the Masters.
But it is, and Woods, who engaged in a hug-fest with just about everyone he saw on the range Monday and Tuesday, made it clear how pleased he was to be back.
"I'm excited, excited to be back, back playing at this level. My game is finally ready to compete at this level, the highest level, and I'm excited to be here," he said. "There's no other tournament in the world like this. To come back to a place I've had so many great memories at and great times in my life is always special … I'm excited to be back competing again and really looking forward to Thursday."
Which is not to say it was all fun and games, though his kids played a bunch of them (tag, obstacle, distraction) while waiting for daddy to get off work.
His surgically repaired back twinged some from twisting and bending over to putt. And the irritation with not getting it right resulted in some Rory McIlroy 3-iron Doral club toss reps.
"There were times when there were a few clubs that flew, so they slipped out of my hand. They traveled some pretty good distances, too," Woods deadpanned. "There were some frustrating moments but I had to stick with it ... We just kept working, shot after shot, hour after hour."
There was none of that frustration on display Monday or Tuesday, an observation noted by many Tiger watchers. Woods, though, claimed that his easygoing demeanor in the opening days of Masters week was nothing unusual.
"Yeah, [I’m] a lot more flexible," he quipped about whether his attitude had changed in the two months he was on sabbatical.
There was much that seemed new about the 39-year-old winner of four green jackets -- including his desire on Monday to "rock out" to his 300 hip-hop song playlist blasting through his ear buds, and confirmation that he will play in Wednesday’s ceremonial Par-3 contest for the first time since 2004, with his "two littles" on the bag.
Some things, however, never change for the former world No. 1.
"Winning," Woods said about what his motivation was for playing this week. "I like it."
Tiger exiting his press conference: pic.twitter.com/QcgemwyNMN— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) April 7, 2015