Tiger Woods continues his fight to return to the game of golf while recognising the reality that he is facing a very steep climb.

Woods was visibly shaken and emotional retracing the winding road in his return to the public eye Tuesday at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

"This year has been a year I'd like to turn the page on," said Woods, who turns 46 in 30 days.

"It's been full of some tough memories and tough times. But it would be nice to turn the page."

Woods said amputation "was on the table" during the three-week hospital recovery in California.

"I'm lucky to be alive and also have a limb," Woods said.

His leg was "shattered" by all reasonable definitions. Medically speaking, he suffered "comminuted open fractures" to the upper and lower portions of his tibia and fibula in his right leg, as well as damage to the ankle bones. He remains in a walking boot.

Behind the microphone for the first time since the life-altering car accident in February, Woods flashed his vintage competitive nature blended with the realities he faced, past and present, from the immobilisation required in his ongoing recovery from a leg injury.

"The challenge of it is, I enjoy the challenge of getting in there and trying to push it to the next level. I enjoy that part of it," Woods said. "Maybe one day it'll be good enough where I can get out here and compete against the best players in the world."

"I'm on the better side of it, but I've still got a long way to go."

Woods' trophy cabinet includes 82 career wins and 15 major championships, but the reality of his situation was abundantly clear on Tuesday. Woods is back in healing mode after his 11th surgery, and countless unknowns are in his path this time around.

"My back hurts and my leg hurts," he said.

Milestones have been cleared, but Woods said he has many more "tough times" ahead. Still, he is counting his blessings in the small steps and incremental victories during his rehab.

"Just getting outside - feeling the sun," Woods added.

Being "tournament ready" is a long shot now but there is hope. Woods plans to ramp up for a few tournaments at some point in the future.

Comebacks and past experience with finding patience are part of Woods' living legacy. Woods had 10 surgeries - five knee operations and five more on his back - before his February accident left him facing a mountainous hurdle to get back to the game of golf.

"This one has been much more difficult," Woods said. "The knee stuff, on my left knee, those operations. That's one level. The back, that's another level. With this right leg, it's hard to explain how difficult it has been.

"Just to be immobile for three months; just lay there. I was just looking forward to getting outside. That was a goal of mine. Especially for a person who has lived his entire life outside, that was the goal.

"I finally got to that point when I transitioned from wheelchair to crutches to now nothing."

Woods admitted there were "some really tough times and the pain got great," but his medical team, friends and family helped him get through it. At present, he comes to grips each day with where he is physically and noted his advanced age is a new variable that wasn't as problematic in recovering from spinal fusion surgery and knee operations.

"I'm on the better side of it, but I've still got a long way to go."

Practicing regularly is not an optio, now or going forward, Woods said. No specific target tournament is on his mind, or at least he wasn't sharing such information, but the thought of playing at St Andrews next July brought a trademark ear-to-ear smile.

One step at a time is the focus.

"I've got to get there first," Woods said.

The sixth Hero World Challenge kicks off this week after a year off in 2020 due to the pandemic.