Rory McIlroy confident wounded Tiger Woods will battle back
Rory McIlroy has said that golf without Tiger Woods "doesn't bear thinking about" after the 14-time major winner admitted he does not know when - or if - he will play again.
A downbeat Woods, who turns 40 on December 30, appeared before the media on the eve of the Hero World Challenge, the 18-man tournament hosted by his foundation, to announce he does not have a timescale for his return.
Woods said he has not been able to begin rehabilitation work for the two back operations he has had since his last start over three months ago.
Asked about his return, he said: "I have no answer for that. Neither does my surgeon or my physio. There is no timetable.
"There is nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards.
"Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I don't know," he added.
Woods' comments have led to speculation that his glittering career may be coming to an end, but he has received words of support from world number three McIlroy.
The Ulsterman posted a photo of the pair together on Instagram, along with the words: "Wishing my idol and friend a speedy recovery. Golf without him doesn't bear thinking about. Hope to see you back on the course soon @tigerwoods."
Woods acknowledged that any good golf from now on would be "gravy" on top of a career that saw him ranked number one in the world for 623 weeks.
"I think pretty much everything beyond this will be gravy," he said. "If that's all it entails, then I've had a pretty good run."
Now ranked down at 400, Woods added: "It's just taking it literally day by day and week by week and time by time.
"It just depends on how the nerve heals and how it settles.
"I listen to my surgeon, I listen to my physios, and we just take it day by day.
"Hopefully the day by day adds up to something positive here soon."