From the power and the glory of his imperious pomp, Tiger Woods’ golfing ambitions are a tad more modest these days. 

“I’ll play a round here or there, a little hit and giggle but as far as playing at the tour level, I don’t know when that’s going to happen,” he said in his first press conference since that devastating car crash in February which shattered his legs, left him fearing an amputation and, effectively, ended his full-time playing career.

For man who would never admit defeat, Woods has been forced to make a few concessions in recent years as his body, with more crumbling bits than the Acropolis, betrayed him. 

Instead of invincibility, we got used to fragility and vulnerability. There was still, however, that miraculous ability, mentality and any other gushing word that finishes in ‘ity’ as he dragged himself up from the pits of physical, psychological, professional and personal despair to win The Masters in 2019. It was a jaw-dropping resurrection. 

Here at the tail end of 2021, the world of golf is facing up to Tiger’s new reality. Woods himself has been getting used to it.

“To see some of my shots fall out of the sky a lot shorter than they used to is a little eye-opening, but at least I'm able to do it again,” he said with a wistful grin. “I'm lucky to be alive but also still have the limb. Those are two crucial things. I'm very grateful that someone upstairs was taking care of me.”

Who knows what those golfing gods have in store for Woods now. The 15-time major winner has embarked on yet another process of long, arduous rehabilitation but there is an acceptance of where that road will lead to.

“I don't foresee this leg ever being what it used to be and the clock's ticking,” said the 45-year-old, who is hosting his own Hero World Challenge event in the Bahamas this week. “I'm not getting any younger. All that combined means that a full schedule and a full practice schedule and the recovery that it would take, I don’t have any desire to do that. 

"This recovery has been much more difficult. It’s hard to explain how difficult it’s been to be immobile for eight months.”

The idea of this great, unyielding competitor becoming a ceremonial golfer is almost impossible to imagine and Woods remains optimistic that he can still make his presence felt in a few tournaments. 

In his earlier interview, he had referenced the mighty Ben Hogan, who battled back from a catastrophic car crash which nearly killed him in 1949.

After that, he never played more than nine events in a season. In 1953, Hogan played just seven and won three majors. “To ramp up a few events a year, there’s no reason that I can’t do that and feel ready,” declared Woods.

Is it asking too much, therefore, to see him at the 150th Open Championship next summer over an Old Course where he won two Claret Jugs with formidable aplomb?

“I would love to play at St Andrews, it’s my favourite golf course in the world,” he said with dewy-eyed reverence of this happy hunting ground in the game’s cradle. “Physically, hopefully I can. The tournament's not going to go anywhere, but I need to get there.”

Woods, who was found to be travelling at almost twice the legal speed limit when he crashed, spent three months confined to a hospital bed before being transferred to a wheelchair and then crutches. “I did it (walk without crutches) probably a little earlier than they suggested,” he added with a glint of spirited defiance in his eyes.

He remains in pain – “my back and my legs hurt” – but the physical reminders of his frightful crash are not mirrored by any mental recollections of the event. “I’m very lucky in that way,” Woods said.

As for the aftermath and the global reaction? "Friends and family kept me insulated from what was being said," Woods noted. "I had access to a TV in the hospital, but I was just watching sports. I refused to turn on the local channels. I didn't want to go down that road. My mind wasn't ready."

Woods turns 46 at the end of this month “It’s been a year I would like to turn the page on,” he said. 

The new year will no doubt bring a few more twists in this particular Tiger’s tale.