Tiger Woods: I Was Lucky to Miss Golf and Be with Family

02/24/2009 at 05:10 PM EST

Tiger Woods: I Was Lucky to Miss Golf and Be with Family
Tiger Woods and daughter Sam Alexis
Charlie Riedel/AP

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Make no mistake about it: Tiger Woods is eager to return to the golf course after being sidelined for eight months with a knee injury. He's ready to feel what he calls "that rush of playing and competing."

But the PGA superstar, who plays Wednesday at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz., says he found unexpected joys in being home with wife Elin, daughter Sam, 2, and newborn son Charlie Axel Woods.

"It was a blessing in disguise to have an opportunity just to see Sam grow that fast and that much," he said at a news conference Tuesday. "As players, you travel so much that I would have missed a lot of that, so I was very lucky there."

He adds: "I didn't realize how much I loved being home and being around Sam and E and now Charlie. I mean, I'll tell you what, that's something that is just so important to me."

Sleep Deprivation

What surprised him, Woods, 33, says, is "the closeness that I feel" to family. "We've had so much fun, so many great times, and I would have missed some of those things," he says.

Fatherhood, however, has meant "a little less sleep," he says. "That's been one of the tougher parts."

Now that he's back to work, "This is my week to get some sleep, get some rest, so I'll take full advantage of it," he jokes. "But on a serious note, it's great. To have Charlie healthy and Elin healthy and obviously Sam just doing great, it just couldn't be any better."

And with everybody doing well at home, he says, he can focus on the game.

"I miss that rush of playing and competing," he says. "I really do, getting on that first tee and feeling it. I miss that. As much as you can have money games at home with the guys, it's not the same. This is what I do for a living, and this is what I've always wanted to do my entire life, and not being able to do it at the highest level was frustrating at times."

GALLERY:
Check out Tiger's form his first time back on the course

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