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With the news that Tiger Woods has officially withdrawn from the 151st Open Championship at Hoylake as he continues his recovery from ankle surgery in April, attention now turns to when he might next see him in action.
Since his return from career-threatening injuries sustained in a February 2021 car crash, Woods has maintained he will never again play a full schedule. Instead, he revealed his intentions to focus on being fit enough to tee it up in the four men's Majors for as long as he's able, while sprinkling in some other appearances when his body feels capable.
On his first start back after nearly losing his right leg and undergoing emergency surgery, Woods remarkably made the cut at the 2022 Masters and even held a spot in the top 10 after the first round.
That raised hopes of his prospects of adding to his 15 Major wins, although that eroded as the year went on. At the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills, Woods again made the cut, but struggled physically during a third-round 79 and withdrew before the final day's action.
He then opted to skip the US Open in order to prepare for the 150th Open at St Andrews, but again looked far from his best physically and missed the cut by nine shots. In fact, such were his struggles in the Home of Golf, some speculated he might announce his retirement after receiving a rapturous reception up the iconic 18th hole on a sunny Friday afternoon in Fife.
Woods was quick to allay fears that it was the end but admitted it was likely his last appearance in the game's oldest championship at St Andrews.
The 47-year-old then suffered another setback before his scheduled appearance in December's Hero Challenge, an event he hosts. Anticipation was high for his first start since July's Open but he pulled out due to plantar fasciitis he had developed in his right foot as a complication of his previous issues.
He was in action in December, however, alongside his son Charlie at the much-loved PNC Championship in Florida, where Team Woods finished in a tie for eighth, six shots behind the winning duo of Vijay and Qass Singh.
Hopes were again raised when he played all four rounds of the 2023 Genesis Invitational, showing flickers of his best golf en route to a T45 finish, in particular during a third-round 67. In fact, but for a cold putter, he would have fared even better.
That fuelled positivity ahead of the 2023 Masters, but it quickly became apparent Woods was not in the kind of condition required to compete. He admitted as much during his pre-tournament press conference.
Despite that, he battled to make a record-equalling 23rd consecutive cut at Augusta National, before he was spotted limping badly on a cold and wet Saturday. Unsurprisingly, he announced his withdrawal before a mammoth Sunday, citing a return of his plantar fasciitis.
Shortly after, he was back under the knife for a subtalar fusion procedure to alleviate symptoms of arthritis in his right ankle that were making it hard to walk. And that is what has ruled him out of the final three Majors of 2023.
However, it's not all doom and gloom. Leading ankle surgeon and consultant Nima Heidari told Golf Monthly the long-term prognosis for Woods is positive. Once he has fully recovered, he should be in far less pain when walking, and although he will have less mobility in the joint, Heidari doesn't think that will have a material effect.
So, when might we see Woods next? Given he's ruled himself out of the Open, the next meaningful event for him on the calendar is the Hero Challenge in the Bahamas. He planned on playing it last year so it's reasonable to assume that would be his intention again this year.
Failing that, and given the fact he is able and willing to use a cart, if we are to see him again in 2023, it would most likely be at the PNC Championship alongside Charlie at the end of the year.
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A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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