Woods: McIlory & Thomas see me as contender again
Tiger Woods believes the heavyweights on the PGA Tour are beginning to see him as a competitor again as he takes the next step in his return at the Genesis Open this week.
Woods played his first official tournament in 12 months, having undergone a fourth back surgery since 2014 last April, as he finished 23rd at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.
His performance at Torrey Pines marked notable progress for the 14-time major champion and Woods will look to make further strides at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.
The 42-year-old has been grouped with two of the world's top 10 in Rory McIlroy and US PGA champion Justin Thomas, and feels he can finally be considered a rival to players of that calibre again.
"I'm trying to win a tournament. I'm sure they feel the same way," said Woods. "It's winning time. I think now they're starting to see me as a competitor because I'm starting to come back again."
Asked what he wants to accomplish as he gets back to regular competition, Woods replied: "Just not to feel sore. To feel like I can play all out again with three days off. Be able to go at it full bore again.
"That's something that I've been trying to do at home, trying to simulate rounds where I go full bore at it, but it's never the same as in a tournament.
"I try and get myself as fired up as possible, hit shots as hard as I would in a tournament or shape shots and be able to do things that I like to do, but it's just not the same."
There has been talk of Woods playing back-to-back tournaments and competing at next week's Honda Classic, which is a hometown event for him at the PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Whether Woods plays next week will depend on how sore he feels after his exertions in southern California, but he believes he is in a no-lose situation.
He said: "It'd be a great sign if I do play and I think it'd be a smart sign if I don't play."