7 Apr 2015

Tiger confident ahead of Masters return

6:24 pm on 7 April 2015

Tiger Woods says he is on the back-nine of a stratchy run of form and is ready to compete again on the eve of the Masters.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 14-time major champion seemed relaxed and light-hearted in his first practice round at Augusta National yesterday ahead of his 20th Masters, where's he seeking a fifth title.

It was Woods' first public outing since going into self-imposed tournament exile in early February to sort out his ailing game.

He's been off the tour since withdrawing at Torrey Pines a week after he missed the cut at the Phoenix Open with a blowout second round 82.

In those performances, Woods suffered repeated chipping woes, blading and stubbing chips like a 15-handicapper.

Prior to those results, his 2014 resume consisted of CUT, WD, 69th, CUT, T25, WD and T80 as he battled form issues and a back injury.

But yesterday, he finished 11 holes alongside longtime friend and fellow Masters champion Mark O'Meara before darkness.

"It's been a process," Woods said of his nine weeks away.

"But I'm on the good side now. I felt like I had to get my game into a spot where I could compete to win a golf tournament, and it's finally there.

"Chipping is fine. I wanted to test out some wedges. That was why I was chipping a little bit more."

O'Meara warned against writing Woods off, though it's 11 years since his last Masters triumph and almost eight years since his last major win.

"The thing about the kid is you can never underestimate Tiger Woods," O'Meara said.

The Masters start on Friday morning.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.