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Will Tiger Woods play the Masters? Guessing game for his return continues

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Tiger Woods toys with the golf world about his plans for the Masters.

Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods, as has come to be the norm with the oft-injured superstar around the first of April, is the subject of intense speculation about whether he will or won’t play the Masters.

With Woods sidelined since his last PGA Tour start (a T10 at the Wyndham Championship in August), his agent has left the door open for what would be a surprising return to competition next week by his prized client. In an email to GolfChannel.com, Mark Steinberg contended there was "no further update at the moment" regarding a timetable for Woods’ comeback from a third back operation.

Steinberg’s word game, naturally, spurred a flurry of excitement throughout the golf world, with some Twitter feeds breathlessly announcing that someone’s cousin had spied Woods practicing at Augusta in preparation for his next shot at putting a dent in his chase of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship titles.

Others denied such sightings, along with those who promoted such hearsay.

In any case, the first round of the Masters is less than a week away and the last the public viewed Woods swinging a club was a month ago, when he posted a video of himself hitting a 9-iron into a simulator with the message, "progressing nicely" after his most recent procedure.

Shortly thereafter, he still had no date for a potential revival of his career as a 14-time major winner.

"I don’t, I really don’t. I don’t really know," Woods said earlier this month from Bluejack National, the Houston-area course he designed. "There is no timetable."

Given his multiple surgeries in the last two years, it would seem highly unlikely that Tiger, who won his fourth of four green jackets in 2005, will be on the first tee at Augusta a week from Thursday.

For sure, many Tiger watchers believe he attempted to come back too soon from his first microdiscectomy in March 2014, when he carded missed cut, 69th, withdrawal and MC in four subsequent events that season. He scuffled through an equally terrible 2015 campaign that included a couple of breaks from playing and a T17 at the Masters.

Which is not to say that a Masters start would be too soon for Woods, who has kept his return schedule between himself and his team. And with eligible players not needing to commit ahead of time to play and simply having to register on-site before their opening tee times, anything’s possible. Unlike a normal PGA Tour event, where you have to commit to playing the Friday before, a former Masters champ can just show up, register before his tee time, and go.

As always with Tiger Woods — and with pranks aplenty possible with April Fools Day just three days hence — stay tuned.

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