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Pain-free Tiger Woods: ‘I want to play professional golf again’

Tiger says that he hasn’t “felt this good in years” following his fourth back surgery.

Omega Dubai Desert Classic - Previews Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Tiger Woods, following his fourth back operation, feels great and looks forward to getting back to the PGA Tour — when his surgically repaired back is ready.

“I haven’t felt this good in years,” Woods, who underwent fusion surgery in April, wrote Wednesday on his website. “I want to say unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again.”

The 41-year-old winner of 14 major championships has not teed it up competitively since the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic in February. After playing poorly and looking miserable, he cited back spasms as his reason for withdrawing from the event prior to day two.

Though Woods noted that he won’t be able to “twist” (or swing) for three months, he was exuberant about how things have gone since his most recent procedure.

“It has been just over a month since I underwent fusion surgery on my back, and it is hard to express how much better I feel,” he said. “It was instant nerve relief.”

Wood related that the operation was successful and as long as he follows doctors’ orders, he could be ready to continue his certain Hall of Fame career in some six months, which was the amount of time he expected to be out of action.

"It's just a matter of not screwing up and letting it fuse. I'm walking and doing my exercises, and taking my kids to and from school. All I can do is take it day by day. There's no hurry,” Woods wrote.

"Presently, I'm not looking ahead,” he added. “I can't twist for another two and a half to three months. Right now, my sole focus is rehab and doing what the doctors tell me. I am concentrating on short-term goals.”

Woods reported that he went under the knife for the fourth time since March 2014 because he “could no longer live with the pain … We tried every possible non-surgical route and nothing worked. I had good days and bad days, but the pain was usually there, and I couldn’t do much. Even lying down hurt. I had nerve pain with anything I did and was at the end of my rope.”

That pain, which gripped him following impact when he swung a club, kept him out of the Masters for the third time in four years, which was “a huge disappointment.” He likened his decision making to what he went through before playing the 2008 U.S. Open — his last major victory, which he won while hobbling around on a broken leg and torn-up knee.

“I did everything I could to play at Augusta and was ready to go,” he said. “I figured, ‘Can I handle it?’ This time the answer was, ‘probably not,’” he said. “That shows the effect nerve pain can have.”

The former world No. 1 who is four tour victories shy of surpassing Sam Snead’s all-time mark of 82 looked to other players — including Davis Love III, Retief Goosen, Lee Trevino, Lanny Wadkins, and Dudley Hart — who had undergone similar surgeries and returned to successful pro careers.

“They have all come back and played. But more than anything, it made their lives better. That’s the most important thing … that I can have a life again with my kids.”