‘Pain-free’ Woods set for comeback

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Nov 2017 11:58:14


ALBANY (Bahamas),

TIGER Woods will get to test himself against the world’s best when he returns to action after a nine-month absence, in the 2017 Hero World Challenge, beginning here from November 30.
By his own admission, it will be a challenge to compete in one of the strongest fields ever with eight of the world’s top-10 players taking part in the tournament.
Woods chose the event for his comeback and took one of the two exemptions for the tournament. The 14-time major winner is coming back following a lengthy recuperation from his latest back operation.

Woods last played a competitive round on the first day of the Dubai Classic in early February before a severe back problem forced him to pull out.
In his previous lay-off from golf, Woods was out of action from August 2015 to December 2016, when he chose last year’s Hero World Challenge for a comeback. But that return, which included a stunning 65 in the first round, lasted three rounds in 2017, before he was laid low by the back injury once again.

Feeling “pain-free” after a long time, the 41-year-old said he was looking forward to playing with his “friends” again.
“I missed being able to play golf with my friends. Just go out and play a casual 18 holes. I had not done that in close to two years as my back was hurting so much. Now it is fantastic to come back and play with my friends, I call them kids actually.

“They have been great at trying to help me come back. I have gotten really close to them and now I want to see how I compete against all these guys,” Woods told a select group of media here.

The field for the USD 3.5 million event is led by Dustin Johnson, who has held the number one spot since February 2017, and includes three of the year’s major championship winners – US Open winner Brooks Koepka, The Open Championship winner Jordan Spieth and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas, who also won the PGA TOUR’s 2017 FedExCup title and was also adjudged the PGA TOUR Player of the Year.

World No 5 Hideki Matsuyama is the defending champion, who is aiming to regain the title against a formidable line- up. The field also includes the European Tour’s Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood and the red-hot Justin Rose, the 2016 Olympic gold medallist. The field has winners of 22 major championships (14 of them by Woods) and 12 players who competed at this year’s Presidents Cup.
The field also has Fowler, Stenson, Kuchar and Kisner, all of whom won on the PGA Tour in 2017.
Thomas, Alex Noren, Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Charley Hoffman and Kisner will tee it up in their first Hero World Challenge.