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Tiger Woods will this week play his first competitive round of golf at since withdrawing from the Masters in April.

An exciting time for fans of the 15-time major champion, but we all know that comebacks come with jeopardy – particularly since Woods has undergone yet another surgery to treat his plantar fasciitis after a painful three days at Augusta.

Even though we’ve seen Woods on the golf course since then, that’s a whole different ball game to what he faces this week.

With that in mind, here are five things to look out for when Woods tees it up on Thursday at the Hero World Challenge

Is the speed still there?

We all know how important club head speed is to compete at the top of the game, but it’s not something Tiger has struggled with in recent comebacks. At his most recent appearance at the Masters, he averaged over 300 yards over the first round at Augusta National, which was actually longer than the field average.

If he can keep clocking distances like that off the tee, then he will certainly have the power to compete.

Tiger Woods comeback driver
Tiger Woods will need speed to compete at the top level. (Credit: Getty Images)

Will he need to make more adjustments to his swing?

Tiger’s swing looked in fine shape at Augusta, but we’ll find out this week whether he’s had to make any significant changes following surgery.

What we’ve seen in recent weeks isn’t enough to get a firm answer on that. Change, however, is nothing new to Tiger.

According to a top surgeon, who has authored a book on Woods’ surgery history, the surgery could well have knock-on implications for his action through the ball.

Essentially, a fusion surgery might fix one problem, while exasperating another issue further up the kinetic chain.

That’s something we’ll need to keep an eye on over the next two weeks, as Woods takes his new action to competition for the first time since April.

• RELATED: What’s in Tiger Woods’ bag?

How does his right leg look?

When Tiger made a return to the course in October, even though he was only seen hitting wedge shots, it was clear that his right leg was somewhat wobbly.

This week, of course, there’s going to be a lot more than short wedge shots, so Tiger fans will be hoping that his right leg holds up well under the strain of hitting drivers.

If it isn’t, that could certainly cause problems for the 15-time major champion.

How’s the short game?

It’s something of a given that Tiger is one of the best putters on the planet, but you might forget that in his last appearance, the flat stick was not at the level he would have expected.

In his first round at Augusta National this year, he missed several par putts that would normally have been automatic.

Tournament sharpness, or ‘reps’, as he calls it, isn’t something he’s going to have this week. If rumours are to be believed that he’s only aiming to play five to six times per year, he might never get that sharpness back.

Despite all his injury woes, ironically, it could be his short game that is the biggest stumbling block.

• Four things we learned from Tiger Woods’ latest “comeback”

Can he walk the golf course?

Perhaps the most important one of all, is the question of whether Tiger can get himself around the golf course.

Woods has often said that if he can be mobile enough to walk a golf course then he can compete, and we might have something of an answer to that already.

Woods was spotted caddying for his son Charlie recently, where he seemed to be moving at a good pace, without too much of a noticeable limp.

Will that still be the case when he’s mixing walking with hitting shots? That remains to be seen, but it’s going to be essential for him to compete moving forward.

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Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

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