After spending nearly a full year sidelined from competitive golf, Tiger Woods has taken a major step towards returning to the PGA Tour.
After Woods teased his recovery with a series of practice videos over the past two months, the 14-time major champion has been fully cleared to resume golf activities. This has led to speculation that Woods will return to action next month to the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, a tournament he hosts.
Woods underwent back surgery on April 19, his fourth such procedure in as many years. Mark Steinberg, his longtime agent, said that the 41 year old had a checkup last week and was given a clean bill of health.
“He got a nice report and is allowed to proceed,” Steinberg said, according to Bob Harig of ESPN. “He can do as much as he needs to do. Tiger is going to take this very, very slowly. This is good, but he plans to do it the right way.”
Take a look at the latest video of Woods’ swing, posted to his Twitter account on Sunday.
If all of this sounds familiar to you, that’s because Woods has put us through this process before. The 79-time PGA Tour winner’s balky back has forced him into a number of lengthy breaks from golf over the past few years, and he’s returned to action relatively quickly every time, attracting a ton of attention with any and all progress updates along the way.
But if this is a case of history repeating itself, then Woods needs to tread carefully. Since undergoing his first back surgery in 2014, all of his comebacks have been followed up by another procedure, sometimes in the span of just a couple of months. Woods, who won the 2008 U.S. Open with a stress fracture in his left leg, has earned a reputation as an incredibly tenacious competitor, so it’s fair to wonder whether his previous returns to golf were premature.
And yet, there is widespread speculation that Woods will return to competition at next month’s Hero World Challenge, an unofficial money event. The small but elite field includes players like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas, but there are still two open spots, one of which may be set aside for Woods.
If a November return is in the cards, Steinberg wasn’t giving anything away.
“We have not even talked about it,” he said when asked about the World Challenge. “We will see what each day brings, what each week brings.”
When Woods does choose to make his return, he could be playing some of his best golf in years. His former swing coach, Hank Haney, recently tweeted that the star’s new swing looks like one “he could win with.”
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