Peterson, who was a three-time All-American at LSU and won the 2011 NCAA individual title, had toyed with retirement from the PGA Tour on several occasions and decided to call it quits last year when he failed to make it through the Web.com Tour Finals following a return from injury.
He took a job in real estate and was happily working "from dark to dark," he told 104.5 FM ESPN Radio Baton Rouge.
Then came Woods' win at the Masters on April 14.
"Sometimes you've got to take a step back to realize what you had," Peterson told the radio station. "I was in an office for seven months, and it was fine when I started, I was paying the bills.
"Then the Masters came along, and I'm watching this kid Patrick Cantlay, who in 2011 finished second to me in the national championship when he was at UCLA, and he's finishing ninth in the Masters. It's on TV, and I beat him, and I beat him a lot, and I'm just like, 'Man, that could be me.'
"And then Tiger wins, with his story, it was just so inspiring, honestly. And I quit my job, seriously, the next day after the Masters."
Peterson was playing last season on a major medical extension granted by the PGA Tour requiring him to earn a certain amount of money in specified tournaments. Since he fell short, he had to return to the Web.com Finals -- a four-tournament series -- where he failed to earn enough money.
Without any status on the PGA Tour or Web.com Tour, Peterson will have to try to qualify for events with an eye on the qualifying tournament later this year.
"I'm taking a big risk, and I really don't have any place to play right now 100 percent, so I have to qualify and stuff," Peterson said. "I will get back. I know I will. It's just kind of a regret watching the guys that I played with my whole life finish top-10 in the majors and just knowing I can do it."