Tiger Woods will make his long-awaited comeback from injury this week when he contests the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas…but what should we expect from the 14-time major on his latest comeback?
Former world number one Woods has been absent from the game due to a persistent back injury, but following months of hinting he was closing in a return to golf via a series of social media posts and videos, the 41-year-old Woods revealed the Hero World Challenge will be his first tournament for almost nine months.
Woods was forced to abandon his latest attempt to return from the back injury when withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic in February, so what can we expect from Woods in the World Hero Challenge?
Hero World Challenge
It is a select field of just 18 players that will contest the tournament, Woods’ own event which takes place between November 30 and December 3. But it features some high-quality golfers—it is no surprise to see Woods at the bottom of the betting odds from bookmakers who are not expecting a winning return from golf’s biggest draw card.
Instead it is the likes of Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, defending champion Hideki Matsuyama and Henrik Stenson who are all favoured to be winning the event.
The rumours are that Woods has his driver working again like the old days, smashing the ball past many of his contemporaries including the monster-hitting Johnson. But it is his back that is the biggest query and how it holds up to tournament golf once again.
Woods has spent the vast majority of the last four years on the sidelines following four separate back surgeries, the most recent of which was in January. This time, he believes the lingering problem has been cured once and for all, and the question to that will be answered in the Bahamas.
Last year, Woods’ attempted comeback in the World Hero Challenge didn’t go well. He was 15th of 18 despite a second round 65, with a closing 76 seeing him finish 14 shots adrift of winner Matsuyama.
Woods’ last appearance on the PGA TOUR was in the Farmers Insurance Open in January, but rounds of 76 and 72 saw him miss the cut.
Woods is a five-time winner of the Hero World Challenge, which benefits his own Tiger Woods Foundation, having triumphed in the event in 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2011. He also finished runner-up on a further five occasions.
But the 79-time PGA TOUR winner has not won a title since lifting the WGC Bridgestone Invitational title in 2013 more than four years ago.
Will it be the Tiger of old who returns in the Bahamas? Will it be a golfer who is a rusty one clearly making his comeback from injuries? Or will it be one who resembles the 1199 world ranking position that the absence from golf has seen him plummet to? Time will tell, but one thing is sure…the golf world is willing him on.
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