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Tiger Woods has announced the field for this year’s Hero World Challenge – and he has left one spot tantalisingly open.

Nineteen of the 20 players for the charity event hosted by Woods’ foundation were revealed on Monday, with the 15-time major champion’s comeback from his latest surgery still up in the air.

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Traditionally, the top 20 in the world rankings are invited to the hit and giggle in the Bahamas, and this year thirteen of those will tee up, including World No 1 Scottie Scheffler, two-time defending champion Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Max Homa, Matt Fitzpatrick, Brian Harman, Wyndham Clark, Jordan Spieth, Cameron Young, Keegan Bradley, Collin Morikawa and Sam Burns.

But with top-20 players Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Tom Kim, Tyrrell Hatton, and Tommy Fleetwood deciding to miss out, and Cameron Smith and Brooks Koepka with LIV Golf, that’s paved the way for Tony Finau, Jason Day, Sepp Straka and Will Zalatoris – who will be making his first PGA Tour start since going under the knife in April.

Woods has also added Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas to the field as tournament exemptions for the event that takes place from November 30 to December 3.

But it’s the 20th spot that raises an eyebrow. It is currently listed as “Tournament Exemption TBA” – so it’s possible he’s thinking about it. It certainly makes sense to test his fitness in a small field event held on a course that isn’t too taxing on the body.

Woods hasn’t played since withdrawing from the Masters, after which he underwent surgery on his ankle. But comeback hopes were raised when he was filmed hitting shots during a recent event at Pebble Beach, where he was hosting the TGR Jr Invitational.

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Woods last played the Hero World Challenge in 2019 – the year of his last victory – and finished fourth. The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and he didn’t play in the last two, choosing instead to tee up alongside son Charlie at the PNC Challenge in Florida.

Watch this space, as they say.

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