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Tiger Woods on track to return at Hero World Challenge

Tiger Woods is on track to make his competitive return to golf in two weeks at the Hero World Challenge, having had time to practice and prepare recently after he aborted his expected return last month at the Safeway Open in California.

Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told ESPN on Tuesday that Woods is "getting after it a bit more, continuing to work toward that goal and excited to get back out there and compete, see the guys and be in the locker room instead of being an assistant captain,'' as the golfer was during the U.S. Ryder Cup victory.

The decision to withdraw from the Safeway event in October -- where Woods had intended to return, committed on the Friday prior and then changed his mind three days later -- was "never about his determination."

"The determination is still there," Steinberg told ESPN. "We've still got two weeks to go, but he is doing the things necessary to get himself as ready as he can be, but it's going to be 15 months since the last time he played competitively.''

Woods' last tournament was a tie for 10th at the Wyndham Championship in August 2015. Since then, he has had two back procedures and went some six months without swinging a club.

His rehabilitation was slow and deliberate, and Woods spent much of this year not publicly committing to any timetable. On Sept. 7, Woods, 40, announced a tentative return date at the Safeway Open, but said just three days before that "my game is vulnerable and it is not where it needs to be.''

After celebrating the 20th anniversary of his Tiger Woods Foundation and going on a media tour, Woods has been able to get back to work on his golf.

Steinberg would not say if Woods is limited in any way -- "those are questions he'll answer and he can certainly give a better perspective than me; and they'll be more relevant two weeks from now'' -- but made clear again that his decision to skip the Safeway tournament was not related to any physical problems.

The 14-time major champion will be joined at the Dec. 1-4 tournament in the Bahamas by defending champion Bubba Watson, U.S. Open winner Dustin Johnson, Open champion Henrik Stenson and PGA winner Jimmy Walker, as well as Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar.

Woods has won the event five times -- the last time in 2011 when it was played at Sherwood Country Club in California. He did not play in the tournament a year ago as he was just six weeks removed from a second back procedure.

The 18-man tournament is considered unofficial on the PGA Tour, but it does award World Ranking points. Not competing for more than a year has taken a toll on Woods' ranking: He has dropped to 861st in the world.