By Rory Carroll
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – Tiger Woods has acknowledged age is increasingly affecting his game but said on Tuesday he was in a good place as he bids for a record-breaking 83rd PGA Tour victory in Torrey Pines this week.
The American, who makes his season debut at the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday, said he was blessed to be competing after back injuries threatened to end his storied career.
“When I was younger, I had more good days than bad,” Woods told reporters on a cloudy day at the oceanside course.
“Now that I’m 44, I feel more bad days than I do good days. I think all of you who are my age or older can relate to that,” he said with a smile.
“That’s the hardest part of being an older athlete.”
The 15-time major champion said he did not get bogged down thinking about what might have been if injuries and surgeries had not sidelined him for stretches of his career.
“There were a number of years where I didn’t compete and didn’t play so those were some missed opportunities,” he said.
“But granted, I’m playing again now so these are blessed opportunities. I didn’t think I would have these.”
Despite his veteran status, Woods said keeping his cool was a key to his success since he can no longer overpower the field with his driver like he did in his prime.
“Managing adrenaline takes a little bit of time,” said Woods, who matched Sam Snead’s long-held record of 82 PGA Tour wins at the Zozo Championship in October.
“I’m so amped up to play that I really have to dumb myself down. Sometimes I need to take a step back and calm down before I’m ready.”
Woods marveled at being paired this week with 22-year-old rising star Collin Morikawa, who was not even born when Woods turned professional.
“That’s one of the neat things about this sport. It does not just encompass a few years,” he said.
“To be considered a good player in football, maybe you can get to a decade of playing in the league. Here we’re measured by decades played, which is very different.
“Arnold (Palmer) and Jack (Nicklaus) and Gary (Player) have been pro for over 50 years.
“It’s a different sport but it’s neat to see the young kids come out.”
World number six Woods this week will battle a star-studded field including defending champion Justin Rose, four-times major winner Rory McIlroy and three-times major winner Jordan Spieth.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)