Woods optimistic on return to action: 'I'm going to try and win this thing'

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Plenty has changed with Tiger Woods in the twists and turns his career has taken over the last few years, but his confidence is as strong as ever.

As he prepares to make his return to competitive golf this week at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, the soon-to-be 41-year-old set a high bar regarding his expectations for the tournament.

"I'm going to try and do the same thing I always do," he said at a news conference on Tuesday. "I'm entered in an event, I'm going to try and win this thing."

His odds of doing so are obviously better in this week's 18-player field than in a traditional PGA Tour event or a major, but it's fair to say no one else expects as much from Woods after a 15-month absence.

Just being back on the course when it counts - and making it through all four days - would be enough for at least a glimmer of optimism about what 2017 might hold for the 14-time major championship winner.

"It's nice being back out here," Woods said. "I think what most people don't really understand is how much of a fraternity this tour really is. The amount of dinners I've gone out to with guys, the texts, the phone calls, over the last 14, 15, 16 months, the guys wanting me to come back out here and play or help me in any way possible, playing practice rounds at home with the guys for a little side change, it's been fun.

"But to get back out here at this level has been a challenge, been a lot of hard work and an inordinate amount of patience, which as you all know is not exactly one of my hallmarks.

"I've had to exercise that more so than usual, but it's allowed me to get to this point where I'm able to compete, where I'm able to play."

Woods has been inching back to the spotlight in recent months, most notably with his stint as a vice captain with the US Ryder Cup team at Hazeltine two months ago. Being immersed in that hyper-competitive environment but unable to play clearly provided whatever further motivation Woods might have needed to get off his home course in Florida and back to the highest level.

Now it's a question of what the latest version of Woods will look like - and feel like - in competition. That, he said, is a question he won't be able to answer until he plays his first round alongside Patrick Reed on Thursday.

"I'll let you know then, because I don't know right now. I've been away from it for a long time," Woods said.

"I've been away from golf at periods throughout my career - I think the longest was maybe nine months after I had my knee reconstructed - and yeah, there's nerves. Of course. I care. I care about what I do out there and I want to win. I want to place the ball in the correct spots, give myself the best angles, and bury these putts.

"So, trying to figure that out, yeah, there's nerves. But it's controlling it and getting into the flow of the round - how fast can I get into the flow of the round?"

The golf world will be watching on Thursday to find out the answer.