ST ANDREWS: Tiger Woods says that age and injuries have failed to diminish his will to win and that more major titles are still possible as he approaches his 40th birthday..
Speaking Tuesday ahead of his fifth British Open at St Andrews, the former world number one spoke of recent hard times and the increasingly distant good times in his golf career.
Questioned at his pre-tournament press conference if he had ever harboured thoughts of retirement during his bleak spell this year, Woods shot back: "Well, retirement? I don't have any AARP (retirement) card yet, so I'm a ways from that.
"I feel like my body is finally healed up from the (back) surgery from last year.
"You know, they say it takes you about four-to-six months to get back, but I've heard a lot of guys on tour who have had the surgery and other athletes say it takes over a year to get back.
"I think they were there probably closer to being right, it being a full year to get back."
Woods feels that time is on his side as he continues his quest to add to the 14 major title wins he has and close the gap on the all-time record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus.
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But his last win in a Grand Slam event came over seven years ago at the US Open, his last win in a British Open was at Hoylake at 2006 and his last at St Andrews was in 2005.
Injuries and changes to his swing pattern have dominated his game for the last two years reaching a nadir this year when he clocked up career-worst scores on the PGA Tour and in the US Open, where he missed the cut, and a best finish of tied 17th in the Masters.
But St Andrews and the Old Course could, he feels, hold the key to helping him return to former glories.
It's his favourite course anywhere and if there is one place that can inspire him to revive his flagging fortunes - alongside Augusta National - it is St Andrews.
He knows the Old Course like the back of his hand, having won his first Open title there by eight strokes in 2000 and then again, by five strokes, in 2005.
"You know, obviously it's the Home of Golf, we all know that. But to me it's brilliant, how you can play it so many different ways," he said.
"I've always wanted to play it one time -- before I die I want to play it one time backwards. I'd love to be able to play it that way, just one time. I think that would be just a blast."
Despite his innate knowledge of the course, Woods was one of the first golfers to arrive at St Andrews, teeing off last Saturday for the first time since he tied for 23rd place in 2010.
He was surprised at what he found.
"It's playing a little bit differently than we've had in previous Opens, or the previous Opens that I've played in," he said.
"It's a little bit softer and I'm sure it's going to get even softer with the forecast (rain) for Friday. It'll be playing a little bit differently this year."
"The only time I've ever seen it like this was when we played the Dunhill Cup in '98. It was cold and soft then, and it's obviously not as cold now, but it's playing about the same type of firmness. It's just not quite chasing."
Woods has a mid-morning tee-time on Thursday going out in the company of 2010 champion at St Andrews Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Australian shotmaker Jason Day.