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Tiger Woods to younger self: ‘Get away from the game, have a life balance’

Editor’s note: Watch Living Golf’s exclusive “Four Days with Tiger” at these times (GMT): Mar 2: 1730; Mar 4: 0730, 2230; Mar 5: 1730: Mar 11: 1730; Mar 12: 0630, 2130.

Twenty years ago he sparked an era that would change golf forever, but what advice would Tiger Woods give to his 21-year-old self?

Much has happened to Woods since he won his maiden major at the 1997 Masters.

Records tumbled, 14 majors piled up, scandal and injury took their toll.

The former long-time world No. 1 is sidelined again with back problems, after missing more 15 months following multiple back surgeries.

The future is unclear for Woods, but if he could go back and speak to his younger self?

“I’d have to say be patient on scheduling, don’t do too much,” the 41-year-old told CNN’s Shane O’Donoghue in an exclusive interview for Living Golf ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic.

“[Get] different hobbies to get away from the game, have a life balance. I think that’s so important.”

Woods’ latest comeback stalled when he withdrew from last month’s tournament in Dubai before the second round citing back spasms.

He has not played since and canceled a news conference ahead of the Genesis Open, which benefits his foundation, because of the ongoing back spasms.

While Woods has been battling to get fit for another tilt at the top of the game, a new generation of players has broken through, with many of his early influences in the game moving on to the senior tour.

“I’m playing against kids that were born after I turned pro,” he added. “That’s what’s so scary.

“The turnover is happening so fast and I’ve been away from it so long that a lot of these names are new to me.”

Perhaps accepting the end of his competitive career is closer than the beginning, Woods has put more energy into his business interests of late, including golf course design.

One of his fledgling projects is a new 18-hole championship course called the Trump World Golf Club in Dubai.

“I love designing golf courses,” he said. “I love creating, especially when you have a blank canvas, like here [Dubai]. It’s just sand, you can create anything you want.”

So what is the Woods design philosophy?

“I want it to be tough for the better players, giving them different angles, different challenges, but also be fun for the recreational player so the weekend warrior can go out there and have fun,” he said.

“We believe in creativity, we believe in speed of play, and the fastest way to speed up play is for players not to lose golf balls. Also using every club in the bag around the green, from putter to three wood.

“I like playing the ball on the ground, bumping it and creating, but you can’t do that anymore now the way courses are being set up.”

The future may be unclear but Woods insists he is in the game for the long haul.

“I’m looking forward to positive things building and accruing and getting momentum,” he said.

“Golf is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”