Tiger Woods is waking up each morning pain-free for the first time in three years, according to friend and fellow former world No.1 Jason Day.
The 14-time major champion makes his return to competitive golf at next week’s Hero World Challenge after ten months out following a fourth back surgery.
And, if what Day says is true, there are high hopes that Woods’ latest comeback will last longer than the last one – which was just three months and seven rounds.
Speaking ahead of the Australian Open, Day said: “I did talk to him and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years. He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great.
“I totally understand where he's coming from because sometimes I wake up and it takes me about 10 minutes to get out of bed. For him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating.”
Woods played four rounds in last year’s Hero World Challenge, finishing 15th in the 18-man field on four-under-par – 14 shots behind winner Hideki Matsuyama.
He then planned to play four tournaments in five weeks starting at the Farmers Insurance Open. He missed the cut at Torrey Pines and then flew to the Middle East for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, where he withdrew after a five-over-par 77 in the opening round after struggling with back spasms.
This culminated in Woods undergoing spinal fusion surgery in April and, just seven months on, Day is hopeful the 41-year-old is ready to return to action and says the tournament – which is hosted by Woods’ foundation – is the perfect place to ease his way back in.
“With regards to him playing next week, there's no pressure,” added Day. “It's an 18-man field, there's no cut ... it's obviously a tournament that suits him, that he likes.
“He says he's ready and I'm hoping he is. From what he says, he's been hitting it long and if he is hitting it long and straight, it's going to be tough for us.”
Watch Day's full interview ahead of the Australian Open below: