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The last time we saw Tiger Woods on a golf course, it almost looked as if he was taking his final bow from the sport he dominated for so long.

After struggling through 36 holes at The Open Championship at the Old Course at St. Andrews back in July, shooting rounds of 78 and 75 to miss the cut by nine strokes, Woods received an emotional ovation from the patrons at the home of golf, one that could almost be seen as a final farewell.

Of course, we all know Tiger is too competitive to go out like that. But if he did, those like myself who’ve been lucky enough to watch his entire career should be thankful for the memories he’s provided for more than a quarter-century.

But let’s save the sobs for when he actually retires. Again, he ain’t done. That much we know. What we don’t know is when we’ll see Woods on the course again. But the 82-time PGA Tour winner has left the possibility open that he’ll return at his annual Hero World Challenge.

Tiger Woods leaves the window open for his return when announcing the field for the Hero World Challenge

Tiger Woods at the 2022 Open Championship at St. Andrews
Tiger Woods | Stuart Franklin/R&A via Getty Images

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For over two decades now, Woods has hosted a small but elite field of players in a tournament, now known as the Hero World Challenge, to benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation. The field started at 16 players back in 2000 but is now up to 20, and for the seventh consecutive time, the Bahamas will serve as the setting for this special event.

And as he always does, Woods has a star-studded group of competitors set to tee it up when the tourney officially begins on December 1. Of the 17 Tiger announced for the initial field, all are in the top 21 of the Official World Golf Ranking.

  • Scottie Scheffler (1)
  • Xander Schauffele (5)
  • Jon Rahm (6)
  • Will Zalatoris (7)
  • Justin Thomas (8)
  • Collin Morikawa (9)
  • Matt Fitzpatrick (10)
  • Viktor Hovland (11)
  • Sam Burns (12)
  • Jordan Spieth (13)
  • Tony Finau (14)
  • Cameron Young (15)
  • Billy Horschel (16)
  • Max Homa (17)
  • Hideki Matsuyama (18)
  • Sungjae Im (19)
  • Tom Kim (21)

The biggest name missing is obviously world No. 2, Rory McIlroy. The others from the top 20 not included in the field are No. 3 Cameron Smith, who’s ineligible anyway as he’s now a member of the LIV Golf roster, No. 4 Patrick Cantlay, and No. 20 Shane Lowry.

However, three spots remain open as Tiger announced those would be filled at a later date. And one has to wonder if the world’s 1,195th-ranked player will fill one himself using a special exemption as the tournament host.

We haven’t received any updates on Woods’ health recently, but that will undoubtedly play a role in whether the 46-year-old joins his pals or not. The tournament takes place two weeks before the PNC Championship, the family affair in which he’s teed it up alongside son Charlie the past two years.

One has to assume Tiger wants to participate in that event again, so he may not want to jeopardize anything by playing the Hero World Challenge. But with those three spots remaining, at least that window is open. Now, as we’ve done with Woods often the last few years, we just have to wait and see what happens.

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