Los Angeles - The sight of
Tiger Woods belting a driver during a clinic at a junior golf event this week
fuelled speculation that the 14-time major champion could be poised for a
return to competition.
The 40-year-old former world
number one hasn't played a PGA Tour event since last August.
Since then he has undergone
back surgery and a follow-up procedure to ease discomfort from a pinched nerve.
His appearance during the
Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club in South Carolina - not far from
Augusta National in the neighbouring state of Georgia - marked the first time
he'd been seen hitting balls in public.
That prompted one Golf
Channel analyst to speculate that Woods could be back for the May 5-8 Wells
Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, calling that a "logical" choice.
Woods's agent Mark Steinberg,
however, told Golf Channel "there is no timetable" for the player's
Woods's long-time friend
Notah Begay, a former pro and now an NBC and Golf Channel commentator, said
Woods is getting closer to a competitive return and that the physical
attributes he'll need "are starting to materialize".
Woods opted out of last
months' Masters, posting on his website that after consulting with his medical
team he felt it was "prudent" to skip the first major championship of
He attended the
pre-tournament Champions Dinner at Augusta National, where tournament chairman
Billy Payne professed himself "delighted" with how well Woods looked
and fellow pros such as Phil Mickelson said they hoped to see the 14-time major
champion back on tour this year.