Tiger Woods has sounded more optimistic about playing golf next year than he did about the PGA Tour finalising a deal with Saudi Arabia or private investors by the end of the year.
Woods addressed reporters on Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT) for the first time in nearly eight months, and so much has happened since then -- fusion surgery on his right ankle that kept him out of golf, the PGA Tour's shocking agreement with the backers of LIV Golf and his decision to join the PGA Tour board for the first time in his career.
He is playing this week's Hero World Challenge, his holiday event in the Bahamas for 20 top players. Woods said his ankle -- but not the rest of his body -- is pain-free and even suggested he hopes that he can play once a month next year, starting with the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.
Woods was most candid about his frustration that he and other players were blindsided by the secret negotiations by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and two high-profile board members that led to the agreement announced June 6 with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
"We were very frustrated with what happened and we took steps going forward to ensure that the player involvement ... we were not going to be left out of the process like we were," he said.
"So part of that process was putting me on the board and accepting that position."
He also expressed faith in Monahan as one reason he agreed to join the board, "what he can do going forward and what can't happen again."
The agreement announced in June set a December 31 deadline to be finalised, though there was a clause that it could be extended.
"I am confident a deal will get done in some way," Woods said.
"Whether that comes December 31 or is pushed back, all sides understand we're working together."
Among the topics is a fair pathway back to the tour for LIV players who want to return, and where team golf can fit in.
"There's a lot of moving parts on how we're going to play, whether it's here on the PGA Tour or it's merging or team golf," he said.
"There's a lot of different aspects that are being thrown out there all at once and we are trying to figure all that out and what is the best solution for all parties and best solution for all the players that are involved."
Among moving parts is his ankle, which appears to be moving just fine. Woods said it was a matter of time before he would have needed ankle replacement surgery or fusion, and he chose the latter in April a few weeks after he made the cut at the Masters but then withdrew.
"I don't have any of the ankle pain that I had with the hardware that's been placed in my foot. That's all gone," Woods said.
"The other parts of my body, my knee hurts, my back. The forces go somewhere else. Just like when I had my back fused, the forces have to go somewhere. So it's up the chain."
Australian Associated Press