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Another false dawn or the return of the king? Tiger aims to rise at Hero World Challenge

For the second year in succession, an invitational event in The Bahamas will bear witness to Tiger Woods' latest comeback attempt.

Tiger Woods - cropped
Tiger Woods playing at the Dubai Desert Classic in 2017

"My greatest ever championship."

Those were the fateful words uttered by Tiger Woods upon winning the 2008 U.S. Open at the expense of Rocco Mediate after a 19-hole play-off.

Dramatic as it was, the triumph in California was marked down by most observers as just another waymark on Woods' march to inevitably surpassing Jack Nicklaus' haul of 18 major championships.

The world number one had raced to 14 after capturing his first at the Masters in 1997 and was only just approaching what was then considered to be the prime of a professional golfer's career.

The knee injury Woods so doggedly played through to overcome Mediate was written off as little more than an irritation that could prevent the game's best from competing at the Open Championship a month later, and perhaps force him to temporarily postpone his relentless acquisition of titles.

No-one, least of all the man himself, suspected the thrilling, draining duel around Torrey Pines would effectively signal the beginning of the end for Woods as modern sport's most irresistible force.

He enjoyed his usual imposing form upon returning from knee surgery in 2009, but revelations of serial marital indiscretions then sent Woods' career into a tailspin, one that has been frequently exacerbated by a succession of further fitness problems and which he has, as yet, been unable to correct.

There have been fleeting glimpses of the old brilliance, most notably during a rise back to world number one in 2013, but the unfortunate truth is that Tiger has never been the same again.

After recovering from yet another back operation, the 41-year-old is due to return again at the Hero World Challenge, starting in The Bahamas on November 30.

It remains to be seen if that will mark another false dawn or the long-awaited return to form and fitness of one of the game's all-time greats.

As he prepares to tee it up in Albany, we assess Tiger's most recent, abortive comeback attempts.

 

2014

Woods' withdrawal from the final round of the Honda Classic due to back issues marked the start of a long period of struggle.

He also withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Masters that year, requiring a microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve.

He did feature at The Open, but finished 23 shots off the pace in 69th and then withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone before missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

 

2015

Another year of toil followed, as Tiger placed tied 17th at the Masters but missed the cut at the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship. 

Two more back operations were required in September and October.

 

2016-17 

Woods' only outing through 2016 saw him finish 15th out of 17 at the Hero World Challenge late in the year, before he ventured back on to the PGA Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, missing the cut.

Worse was to follow at the Dubai Desert Classic, Woods withdrawing ahead of the second round and subsequently undergoing yet another back operation.

And the latest lengthy period of rehabilitation was punctuated by his arrest, Woods accepting a charge of reckless driving after being found asleep at the wheel of his car, something he blamed on an adverse reaction to prescription drugs.

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