Tiger enters the unknown under competitive spotlight

Mon Oct 10, 2016 1:22pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - No one, and in all likelihood not even Tiger Woods himself, can know how the former world number one will fare as he makes his much anticipated PGA Tour return at this week's Safeway Open in Napa, California.

After spending over a year on the sidelines while retooling his game following his recovery from back surgeries, Woods will be testing himself under the harsh glare of competition in three tournaments before the year-end.

The 14-times major champion has not played on the PGA Tour since August 2015, having undergone surgeries in September and again in October of that year due to ongoing back problems.

Now in the twilight of his career at the age of 40, Woods knows full well that time is not on his side as he strives to get his game back into competitive shape.

"It was difficult missing tournaments that are important to me, but this time I was smart about my recovery and didn't rush it," Woods said after announcing his plans to compete in Napa. "I still have work to do.”

The greatest player of his generation and arguably of all time, Woods has not won a tournament anywhere since 2013 and his title drought in the major championships dates back to 2008.

NBC commentator Johnny Miller, a double major champion who is tournament host of the Safeway Open, believes the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa is an ideal venue for Woods.

"There is nothing funky about it," Miller said on Golf Channel. "It's a very straightforward course, sort of his kind of course. A lot like Torrey Pines.   Continued...

Tiger Woods of the U.S. stands on the 12th green during a practice round ahead of the British Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, northern England July 15, 2014.        REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo