Hoping for return, Tiger Woods admits 'unfortunate reality' he likely won't be same player again

In his first extensive interview since a February car crash, Tiger Woods said his hope is to return to competitive golf, but that he never expects to compete again at the highest level.

"I think something that is realistic is playing the Tour one day -- never full-time ever again -- but pick and choose, just like Mr. [Ben] Hogan did," Woods said during a Zoom interview with Golf Digest. "Pick and choose a few events a year and you play around that.

"You practice around that, and you gear yourself up for that. I think that's how I'm going to have to play it from now on. It's an unfortunate reality, but it's my reality. And I understand it, and I accept it."

That thought process has come a long way from his days in the hospital, when his focus was more on his leg.

"There was a point in time when, I wouldn't say it was 50/50, but it was damn near there if I was going to walk out of that hospital with one leg," he said. "Once I [kept it], I wanted to test and see if I still had my hands. So even in the hospital, I would have [girlfriend] Erica [Herman] and [friend] Rob [McNamara] throw me something. Throw me anything."

Woods referenced Hogan, who played a limited schedule in the early 1950s after returning from injuries suffered in a car accident.

The Feb. 23 accident in Southern California in which Woods was driving at a high rate of speed caused significant injuries to his right leg and foot. He only recently posted a video of him hitting a shot from a driving range while wearing a compression sock. The video was captioned: "Making progress."

"I don't have to compete and play against the best players in the world to have a great life," he said. "After my back fusion, I had to climb Mount Everest one more time. I had to do it, and I did. This time around, I don't think I'll have the body to climb Mount Everest and that's OK. I can still participate in the game of golf. I can still, if my leg gets OK, I can still click off a tournament here or there.

"But as far as climbing the mountain again and getting all the way to the top, I don't think that's a realistic expectation of me."

Woods' comments were in advance of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, a tournament he hosts for his foundation. Woods is scheduled to do a news conference on Tuesday.