Tiger Woods during a news conference ahead of the Challenge: Japan Skins event at Accordia Golf Narashino C.C. in Inzai, Japan on Monday. Photo: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

CHIBA – Tiger Woods on Monday declared himself “right on schedule” after recent knee surgery as he prepares to return to competition at this week's Zozo Championship.

Speaking at his first press conference since an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee in late August, Woods left no doubt that he would be ready for Thursday's first round when the U.S.-based PGA Tour plays its first official-money event in Japan.

But he also revealed the knee had bothered him throughout his 2019 campaign, which famously included his Masters triumph, and that he had originally planned to have the surgery at the end of last year, before postponing it.

“It progressively got worse, to where it was affecting even reading my putts,” said the 15-times major champion, whose season petered out after his Augusta National victory in April.

“I wanted to be fit and ready for the end of the year and I've battled through this entire year trying to piece it together. It's been nice to get over the hump and feel good again and go at it full speed.

“I'm excited to be having this end of the year run.”

Tiger Woods leaves after a news conference ahead of the Challenge: Japan Skins event at Accordia Golf Narashino C.C. in Inzai, Japan, Monday. Photo: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

Woods, wearing a dark blue sleeveless sweater, spoke at Narashino Country Club before a Monday afternoon Japan Skins made-for-TV exhibition with Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Jason Day.

While that will be fun and games, it will be serious business come Thursday.

It will be 43-year-old's final chance to assess his form and fitness before deciding whether to include himself as a player on the United States team that he will captain at the Presidents Cup in Australia in December.

Reuters