By Ben Everill
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Tiger Woods admitted on Tuesday to sleepless nights in the lead-up to this week's Players Championship as he wrestles with the anniversary of his father's death and recent breakup with Lindsey Vonn.
Returning to golf for the first time since his comeback at the Masters last month and since announcing on Sunday that his near three-year relationship with U.S. Olympic skier Vonn was over, Woods admitted the last three days have been "brutal."
Sunday also marked the nine-year anniversary of his father Earl's death, and Woods did not sugarcoat his feelings.
"Obviously it does affect me. It is tough. There's no doubt. I'm not going to lie about that," said Woods.
"This time of year is really, really hard on me. This three-day window is really hard. I haven't slept. These last three days ... is just brutal on me, and then with obviously what happened on Sunday, it just adds to it."
But the 2013 Players Championship winner is ready to get back down to business, even if his practice round on Tuesday with Australian Jason Day was scratchy.
He lost a handful of balls and lost the ball both right and left in perhaps worrying signs ahead of Thursday's opening round, where he will tee off with Australia's Adam Scott and Germany's Martin Kaymer.
But Woods, who tied for 17th at Augusta National, instead chose to focus on his practice coming into this week for what is widely regarded as golf's unofficial fifth major.
"I've had some pretty good practice sessions. My short game still feels really good, and we made a couple little swing tweaks," said Woods.
"I've always had to deal with circumstances and stuff outside the ropes, and once you're inside the ropes it's time to tee it up and time to play."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)