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It is now very much a case of when, not if Tiger Woods will his competitive return.

In truth, it probably always was for the injury-ravaged 15-time major champion. Even as Woods belatedly withdrew from this April’s Masters, hobbling around Augusta National in excruciating pain caused by plantar fasciitis, it still didn’t feel like the end.

He had subtalar fusion surgery in New York days after leaving Augusta to address the arthritis caused by his ankle injury, and ever since then, has seemingly been plotting his latest comeback to the course.

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This has been another long road to recovery, but there is now enough tangible evidence to suggest he could play again before the year is out.

Not least because Stewart Cink said the 47-year-old is in “go-mode” after catching up with Woods recently.

The fears with Woods have never been about his ability to swing a club again, but rather his ability to walk 72 holes in a golf tournament.

And that is why footage of him carrying the bag for his son Charlie at a junior tournament over the weekend has caused nearly as much excitement  as a video of him hitting a full wedge shot at Pebble Beach a month earlier.

Woods has been looping for Charlie at the Notah Begay III Invitational at Koasati Pines in Louisiana, and videos from the first tee shows him walking without a limp at the three-day event.

Videos from the opening two rounds show Woods striding freely, just days after he was seen testing the strength of his lower leg at El Cardonal, the Mexican course that hosted the World Wide Technology Championship last week.

Unsurprisingly, plenty on social media are already thinking ahead.

Barstool’s Dan Rapaport claims this is the best he has seen Woods move since his life-threatening single-car crash in Los Angeles in February 2021.

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“Oh the walk looks good, Tiger is back,” another said, while one fan noted that there’s “not even a hint of a limp.”

It is only right, then, to look to the calendar to work out when Woods could make his return. The 2009 Open champion Cink revealed Woods has started practising, but what for?

Woods has left one spot open in the field for his annual Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas at the end of this month, but that tournament might come too soon.

More likely is a return at the PNC Championship, the team competition he has played in alongside his son Charlie for the past three years, from December 14-17 in Orlando.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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