Tiger Woods is so close, yet so far away from matching Jack Nicklaus’ 18 majors. The latest obstacle was a back injury in 2015 that he has yet to return from.
Woods originally intended to return at the Safeway Open on Oct. 13-16, but withdrew, saying he was healthy, but simply wasn’t prepared to compete. He also withdrew from the Turkish Airlines Open, the next scheduled event he intended to compete in (Nov. 3-6).
The next tournament on Woods’ list was the Hero World Challenge, slated for Dec. 1-4, and he appears to be on track at this time. It’s not an official PGA event, but it would help Woods improve his love world ranking. However, the picture will be clearer a little closer to the event, as his return is not completely certain just yet. If Woods does in fact play, it would answer the question everyone everyone is asking, will Tiger play again? Woods withdrew from the Safeway Open only three days before, just after confirming he would compete in the tournament. Not long after that, fellow injured golfer Jason Day stated he believed Woods wouldn’t return any earlier than 2017. It’s still possible that Woods will withdraw from the Hero World Challenge.
Tiger has had a number of injuries during his career, most of them in the 8 years since his last major win. Steve Williams, Woods’ caddie during all 14 of his major wins, suggested last spring that the injuries could be self-inflicted, caused by Woods’ intense training and workout regimens.
This most recent absence was due to a second microdiscectomy, intended to correct a pinched nerve in his back, and underwent a follow-up procedure not long after. Woods underwent a microdiscectomy at the end of March 2014, but more back pain arose during the Wyndham Championship in August 2015 and derailed his comeback attempt.
While Tiger’s full progress has not been publicly announced, some details show that he’s slowly improving and returning. In February, amidst reports that Woods was actually getting worse after his surgery, he tweeted out a video of him swinging a 9-iron into a simulator. In April, he was reported as going full speed in practice, including swinging drivers to work on his long ball.
So, at least for now, Woods appears to be healthy and his return imminent. He didn’t become a great golfer overnight; intense training and years of competition at a young age did that, and it’s not just like riding a bike. He has to get his game back in order, so until he’s actually on the course in a tournament, we can’t assume he’s ready to play.
It’s going to happen. We just don’t know exactly when yet.