Orlando (Florida), Dec 4: A brand new swing and a fit-again back would both be put through a stringent test when celebrated golfer Tiger Woods makes a comeback at the Hero World Challenge against a highly competitive field, which includes six Major winners.
The 38-year-old has not played since August 8, after missing the cut at the PGA Championships in Valhalla, Kentucky. A week before that, a troubled back had forced him to withdraw from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational after eight holes.
The American could not have hoped for a better place to make his comeback given that he has spent 14 of his life in Isleworth and knows the course like the back of his palm. It will also be interesting to see how the 14-time Major winner's partnership with Chris Como - his new swing consultant - begins.
Woods has already declared that the pain in his back has all but disappeared and he was happy with his speed. Woods has, however, admitted that is was not yet game ready. It will also be interesting to see if Woods gets good results from his new swing, tweaked in consultation with Como.
"I just haven't done it in a long time but my body is remembering it. The motor patterns, you develop all these different motor patterns in one's career. It's familiar, so it has not taken me that long to implement it," Woods said.
"I just need to hit more balls and get more reps, especially under competition, I want to see where it's at. I'm very pleased with my speed and the freedom I have and what I've been doing with the golf ball," Woods said.
Woods was in a worse situation in 2011 when he was to make a comeback at the World Challenge after spending 107 weeks without a win. And he went on to the win that tournament. But it does not seem all that easy this time given that the field comprises six of the top-10 players, led by world number two Henrick Stenson.
Bubba Watson (4) is another top-5 five player, followed by Justine Rose (6), Jason Ray (8), Rickie Fowler (9) and Matt Kuchar (10). From among the 18-player field, there are five - apart from Woods - who have are Major titles to their credit, including Watson, Rose, defending champion Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Keegan Bradley.
Woods admitted that with age not on his side, his shots do not go as far as the younger lot manage but he said there are other ways to go around a golf course.
"I think that's when it's really neat to be part of a sport in which you can play for such a long period of time, and you can win at a very late age because you don't have to physically dominate anybody. You don't have to physically beat anybody. You just have to beat the golf course," Woods said.