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Tiger Woods resumes full golf activities following doctor’s clearance

The 14-time major winner gets a significant doctor’s report, and there are now no restrictions as he practices to get back to competitive golf. When could we see him next?

Hero World Challenge - Preview Day 3
Tiger at last year’s Hero World Challenge -- could a return in 2017 be possible?
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The latest update in the latest Tiger Woods injury comeback is a significant one. There’s been a stream of ambiguous tweets, comments, and videos indicating some sort of “progress.” But now Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg, tells ESPN’s Bob Harig that Woods’ doctor has cleared the 14-time major winner to resume full golf activities. There are no restrictions on what he can practice — it was just three weeks ago at the Presidents Cup that he said he was hitting only 60-yard wedge shots.

Steinberg told Harig the report from the doctor came late last week. Even with the restrictions off, Woods isn’t exactly going to dive right in and start ripping drivers for 13 hours a day (at least we think, hope, and expect).

“Tiger is going to take this very, very slowly,” said Steinberg. “This is good, but he plans to do it the right way."

On Sunday, Woods tweeted video of himself (amusingly in his Sunday red and black) taking a full cut with the driver. That’s much more than the 60-yard wedge shots we were given at the Presidents Cup and more than the intervening video of some smooth iron shots he also posted on Twitter. The driver is the last big step in a rehab of this kind.

The clearance comes just six months after Tiger had back fusion surgery, which was different than his prior back surgeries. Those were microdiscectomies and when we got the announcement on the fusion, it felt like an operation that was a last big attempt at Tiger just being able to live a relatively normal, pain-free life. The expectations ranged from he’d be out of golf for months, perhaps another full year, or even done for good. That he’s fully cleared six months later is a positive surprise and development.

It’s a significant step, but clearance to resume full golf activities and playing PGA Tour golf are two separate things. Steinberg cautioned that Tiger was going to take this very slow, something he hasn’t done in some of the prior comebacks from back surgery.

The immediate speculation turns to the Hero World Challenge, a small event in the Bahamas with 18 of the best players in the world. Tiger hosts it and it benefits his foundation. It’s also about a month-and-a-half away on the schedule. There are still two spots in the field, left conspicuously open in a recent release announcing all the superstars making the trip to the Bahamas that first weekend in December.

Steinberg says they haven’t even discussed the Hero World Challenge yet. It was the one event last year where Woods put in an exhilarating throwback performance to lead the field in birdies. There was ugliness too, but he went on runs that we hadn’t seen in years and he got us whipped into a frenzy. The course and event would be a soft and friendly place to re-emerge into competitive golf. Playing the Hero World Challenge seemed like a long shot a few weeks ago, but until Tiger says one way or another, we’ll hold out hope.