Tiger Woods. Picture: REUTERS
Tiger Woods. Picture: REUTERS

Albany — Tiger Woods will once again steal the spotlight at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Thursday, despite the elite field containing eight of the world’s top-10 golfers, as he embarks on what could be his final shot at a comeback.

The 14-time Major champion, who is now ranked No 1,199 in the world, has not played since back spasms aborted his latest comeback 10 months ago and while various reports suggest he is swinging freely, no one will know how he is until he has undergone several rounds in the heat of competition.

Woods experienced a similar false dawn at the same tournament in 2016 after a 16-month hiatus for previous back surgeries and the initial reports were upbeat after he completed four rounds. Yet two months later he succumbed to the reality of how bad his back was and further surgery followed in April.

Numerous videos have since been posted on social media of Woods apparently swinging well but precious little has been heard since an initial upbeat statement from surgeon Richard Guyer after the procedure, while details from the Woods camp have been vague.

"If he is healthy and pain-free then what’s possible completely changes, but everything is speculation at this point," Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo said.

Nobilo’s fellow Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee is not bullish on Woods.

"A bad back by a 41-year-old, four back surgeries in the past three or four years, followed by the emotional stress of the scandal and the controversies that have followed him around and likely some addictions, followed by the chipping yips, which various people have texted me, all caps, exclamation points, that he is over," Chamblee told Golf.Com.

"I’ve seen no evidence that he’s over it," he added.

But Chamblee has been impressed with Woods’ swing during pretournament practice rounds this week and said he would not be surprised if he posts a top-10 finish in the 18-man field this week.

Reuters

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