Tiger Woods is ready to return to playing competitive golf in the Bahamas at the Hero World Challenge. As the host of the tournament, he is eligible to receive a special exemption that is given to just the host.
While 17 of the 18 players in the field will be ranked inside the top 50 in the world rankings, Woods, who is ranked No. 1,199, will be appearing for the first time in a tournament since February 3 or nearly 10 months, following a fourth surgery on his back.
Since 2013, Woods, who is 41, has been on 79 career PGA Tour wins, and has made only 19 starts worldwide since the first of his four back surgeries March 31, 2014.
Over that span, Woods missed the cut seven times and withdraw in three. He missed the cut in his last three majors and has been in the top 10 just once.
PGA member Brad Faxon played a round of golf with Woods, current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and President Donald Trump on Friday at Trump National Golf Club.
A day after the round, Faxon wrote a story on how the round went and he praised Woods’ play. Faxon said Tiger looked great and was happy on the course, since he says he is finally pain free.
It appears, wrote Faxon, that the issues Tiger had with his back the past few years are now gone, as he looked to be playing effortlessly, free and with power.
Faxon even wrote that at times Wood drive the ball further than Johnson who is considered one of the tour’s longest hitters.
Not only did Faxon praise the long hitting and power for Woods, but spoke highly of his short game. Faxon added how happy he was to see the former No. 1 in the world closer to coming back to a sport he dominated for so many years.
As for the upcoming full season, and majors, Woods is eligible to play both the Masters as well as PGA Championship for life. He is also eligible to play in The Open until he is 60.
His biggest issue will be at the U.S. Open where he has an exemption through just the 2018 tournament, based on the exemption of 10 years he was given for winning in 2008 at Torrey Pines.
Unless he was to qualify another way such as the FedExCup or world rankings, Woods would have to play sectional qualifying beginning in 2019.
However, that is likely never to happen, as he would likely be given a special exemption in the 2019 Open at Pebble Beach by the U.S. Golf Association and quite conceivably for years beyond just that.