• On track to return at Hero World Challenge in December.
• Hasn't played since PGA Championship in August.
• Agent: 'He is listening to his doctors and to his body.'
Tiger Woods is stepping up his rehab as he prepares to return to competitive golf, according to reports in the States.
The USA Today has quoted the former world No.1’s agent Mark Steinberg as saying that Woods – who last appeared at the PGA Championship in August – started hitting full shots again last week as he continues his rehab from the back injuries that have blighted his year.
This would appear to put him on track to return as scheduled at the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth, which takes place from December 4-7. The tournament benefits Woods’ own foundation.
"The doctors said he could hit golf balls again, and he's listening to his doctors and to his body," explained Steinberg. "He will keep listening to his doctors and body.”
Until last week, it is thought that Woods had been limited only to chipping and putting, so it will encourage his fans that he is now back to hitting full shots.
The 38-year-old has had a torrid year. After winning five times in 2013, he started 2014 ranked No.1 in the world. However, following an indifferent start to the year, he was forced to sit out the Masters and the US Open after undergoing a microdiscectomy to alleviate a pinched nerve.
At present, Tiger Woods is 17th on the world rankings.
He missed the cut on his return to action at the Quicken Loans National and recorded his worst 72-hole finish as a professional at the Open in July. After withdrawing with another back problem in the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, he then missed the cut at the PGA Championship. He subsequently announced that he was sidelining himself until December at the earliest, missing the Ryder Cup in the process.
The Hero World Challenge would appear to be a sensible place for him to return. Not only is it an event he has won five times in the past, it is taking place for the first time this year at the Isleworth Golf Club he knows so well.
He will, however, have a lot of work to do to recover his standing in the game. At present, he is 17th on the world rankings and could have slipped outwith the top 30 by the time he returns.
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