Tiger Woods checked off another box Monday in his self-described "long road" to recovery, saying that he played his first actual holes of golf in more than eight months.
Woods was on hand for the grand opening of the back nine at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, his first course design to open in the U.S. After a brief warm-up session in front of club members and several media members, Woods played a casual five holes alongside friend and Bluejack ambassador Mark O'Meara.
Woods addressed a group of media after the outing and explained that those were the first holes he had played since a T-10 finish at the Wyndham Championship in August that was followed shortly thereafter by a pair of back surgeries.
"I haven't been out here playing like this. I hadn't played any holes until today," Woods said according to ESPN. "I know people have said I've played holes back at Medalist, but I haven't. This is actually the first time I've played holes since Wyndham. It's been a while."
RG: The tee shot on the long 18th hole. pic.twitter.com/KdI9dQHi1V— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 25, 2016
The appearance marks the latest sign of progress as Woods appears to be closing in on a return to the PGA Tour.
Last week he hosted a clinic at a junior golf tournament at Sage Valley Golf Club where he hit range shots from wedges to drivers, and earlier Monday information surfaced that he has already registered for the upcoming U.S. Open - a bit of procedural paperwork that falls short of a commitment, but means he will at least keep open the option of teeing it up at Oakmont.
RG: Taking a crack at the par-3 12th hole. pic.twitter.com/hqArUey34r— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 25, 2016
Woods told reporters that he was "definitely a little tired" but feeling "pretty good" after his outing at Bluejack. While he said he still has to gain strength and distance off the tee, Woods sees signs of improvement as his recovery continues.
"I'm just progressing," he said. "You saw how I was going at it today, nice and smooth. That's harder than I have been going at it the last month. Just gradually progressing. We're just trying to progress and I'm doing that."
As for a return to competition, though, Woods remained elusive. While Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reported last week that there was a good chance Woods would return at the Wells Fargo Championship next week followed by The Players the week after, Woods reiterated that he still does not have a timetable for his return to life inside the ropes.
"I haven't set any date to when I'm playing again, which is frustrating to say. But to be honest with you, that's what I've had to do. I've had to go with that mindset," he said. "Keep improving. Keep getting better. Keep making progress. And I'm doing that."
Should Woods decide to return at Quail Hollow, he would have to notify tournament officials of his commitment by 5 p.m. ET Friday.