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Tiger busy at everything but golf

Still no timetable for return to links

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Tiger Woods talks about his upcoming June charity event at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

PATRICK SEMANSKY / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Tiger Woods talks about his upcoming June charity event at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

BETHESDA, Md. -- Tiger Woods has been busy.

A trip to Mexico to check on the progress of his new golf course, El Cardonal at Diamante Cabo San Lucas. Rocking Las Vegas at his Tiger Jam charity event this past weekend. Driving his kids to school and sports events.

And becoming an expert at playing video games.

What he hasn't been doing, however, is hitting golf balls.

Save for very light chipping and putting, Woods has put his game on the shelf following microdiscectomy surgery March 31 to alleviate pain caused by a pinched nerve in his back. Woods is not rushing his return and remains uncertain when he'll be back competing against the best golfers in the world.

'I have to take it on a daily basis. It's not going to be up to me whether I play or not, it's going to be up to my docs'

"There really is no timetable. That's been kind of the realization to all of this is that there's no date. I have to take it on a daily basis. It's not going to be up to me whether I play or not, it's going to be up to my docs," Woods said Monday.

"Obviously, I want to play now. I miss playing. I miss being out there on the golf course. I miss getting out there and hitting balls and just playing. I miss the game. Forget about competing at the highest levels, I just miss being out there and just being around the golf course.

"But as far as full swings and that timetable about playing, I don't know."

The former No. 1 Woods was speaking at Congressional Country Club in advance of the Quicken Loans National here on June 26-29 that benefits his foundation. Woods, 38, who fell to No. 2 in the world on Monday as Adam Scott took over the top spot, has not played since March 9. He began light chipping and putting April 20.

Woods, who is rehabbing in Florida, has missed five major championships since he had reconstructive left knee surgery following his win in the 2008 U.S. Open, his 14th and last triumph in a major. Since then he has missed tournaments due to injuries to his back, elbow, neck, knee and Achilles.

Missing a sixth major championship seems likely -- the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C., begins June 12. Also in jeopardy are the British Open in July, the PGA Championship in August and the Ryder Cup in September.

"I don't know when I come back and start ramping it up, how far am I away from being explosive," Woods said. "Do I still have that capability of hitting the ball like that? But once I start feeling like that, I don't think it would take more than a couple weeks to where I can get out there and feel like I can compete. Now, how rusty am I going to be? The more time you give me, I think the better I'll be. The great thing about what I've done so far and all my other previous surgeries is that I worked on my short game. Once I start expanding from there and start competing and playing, if I start spraying it all over the lot and not hitting it that great, at least my short game is solid."

Until then, his focus is on rehab and making sure he doesn't overdo it physically. That includes playing with his kids on the soccer field or golf course, although he's spent plenty of time on the couch becoming "damned good at video games."

"That's been probably the most difficult and challenging part, because they're very active and like playing sports and so do I," Woods said. "That competitive part of me wants to get out there and wants to be out there with them. I've had to sit down and play catch with Charlie sometimes just sitting on the couch and get a little mitt and play catch that way. I'd like to get out there and throw with him, but I just can't do it yet."

Coming off a year in which he won five times and was the PGA Tour Player of the Year for a record 11th time, Woods has played just four tournaments this year. He was unable to defend his title in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship. He also missed the first major of the season, the Masters, where he's won four times.

He experienced back issues in the Honda Classic in March, where he withdrew during the final round after 13 holes. The following week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, his back problems limited his practice -- he didn't hit any full shots before the first round -- and bothered him during a final-round 78.

Whether he can play or not he will attend the Quicken Loans National. The tournament, which has raised $17 million for charity since 2007, is in its eighth year and the first with title sponsor Quicken Loans. The tournament directly supports three local Tiger Woods Learning Center campuses and 25 DC-area Earl Woods Scholars. The tournament also provides free tickets to military members; more than 200,000 tickets have been donated.

One of the scholars is James Green, who spoke at the news conference Monday. Green, who was physically abused by his biological father, attends George Mason University, where he studies criminology and homeland security. After his mother remarried, his step-father became his hero and provided guidance.

"The Earl Woods Scholarship program has done wonders for people who are under the poverty line, people whose kids are not getting a chance in their life, and I know that I could never have gotten to this point without help, without a team, without people supporting me, and I was lucky enough to have two great parents," Woods said. "Not everyone is fortunate to have that situation, and to give and listen to these stories like James and many others, just gives us, I think, all pause and seeing this is the type of impact we can have.

"Not everyone has the opportunity in life, and to see some of these kids who have gone through our program, to see the light go off like that has been, it makes it all worth it. People like James, they're just special. Just got to give them a chance."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 20, 2014 C5

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