NASSAU, Bahamas -- Tiger Woods has yet to swing a golf club since twice undergoing procedures on his troublesome back this fall, and at this point he is unable to commit to playing golf next year.
At a news conference Tuesday in advance of the Hero World Challenge, Woods spoke pessimistically about his immediate future in the game, saying he has yet to begin rehabilitation and doesn't know when he will resume golf activities.
"I have no answer for that, and neither does my surgeon," Woods said at Albany Golf Club, where he will be a spectator for the annual tournament that benefits his foundation. "There is no timetable, so that's the hardest part for me. There's really nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards.
"Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?"
Asked what he can do, Woods said, "I walk. And I walk and I walk some more.
"It's just taking it literally day by day and week by week and time by time. It's different from any of the other surgeries and procedures that I've had in the past, where, OK, you blow out your ACL, which I did, and I had ACL reconstruction, and OK, you're back in nine months. That's the timetable.
"For nerves, there are really no timetables, and therein lies the tricky part because you can come back earlier or you can come back later, it just depends on how the nerve heals and how it settles."
Woods, who will turn 40 on Dec. 30, appears to have confronted the possibility that his career could end. He declined to specifically say that on Tuesday, saying instead that his hope is to resume his career and "get after it with these guys." But he also acknowledged that any good golf from now on "is gravy" on top of a nearly 20-year career that includes 14 majors and 79 PGA Tour wins and saw him ranked No. 1 in the world for 683 weeks. He is now at No. 400 and will continue to drop as long as he is not playing.
After a tie for 10th at the Wyndham Championship in August, Woods was positive that his game and his swing had taken a turn for the better after his worst year as a pro saw him miss three cuts in major championship. But just three weeks later, Woods had second microdiscectomy surgery to alleviate pressure on a disk in his lower back. Woods said that surgery came as a surprise because he visited his surgeon, Dr. Charles Rich, as a matter of routine and to ask about hip pain -- which he had complained about following the last round at the Greensboro event.
Woods' first microdiscectomy was in March 2014, and he missed three months after that surgery.
Woods had a third procedure Oct. 28 to the same area because of discomfort. He didn't say whether he has had three microdiscectomy surgeries, just that he's had three procedures on the same area of his back.
Asked whether he'd be surprised if he was not playing golf a year from now, Woods said, "I really don't know.
"There is no timetable for this, and that's been the hardest mindset adjustment, is that I don't know. So where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I don't know, so that's been hard. But I also had to reset the clock each and every day, and OK, here we go, this is a new day and take it for what it is. I listen to my surgeon, I listen to my physios, and we just take it day by day.
"Hopefully the day by day adds up to something positive here soon."
Woods said his decision to become a vice captain for Davis Love III on the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team is not related to any feelings he has about the rest of his playing career.
"When I was asked to be part of the task force and I committed to that ... all the guys on the conference call all know what my feelings were about the Ryder Cup and how I wanted to be a part of it," Woods said, referring to the task force that was formed after the 2014 Ryder Cup loss to Europe.
Woods is now part of a Ryder Cup committee that includes Love, Phil Mickelson and three PGA of America officials.
"I told Davis, whatever you want me to do, I'll do."
As for his career, Woods said, "I'm hoping that I can get back out here and compete against these guys. I really do miss it. I miss being out here with the boys and mixing it up with them and see who can win the event."