Woods still taking recovery slowly despite progress

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Tiger Woods is hitting the ball 60 yards and working on his putting with Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler but is not rushing his return to the PGA Tour.

Persistent back issues have led to a succession of surgeries for the former world number one, who has made only three tournament appearances since August 2015 and withdrew from the most recent of those - February's Dubai Desert Classic - after just one round.

A tumultuous year for Woods has also seen him arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after he was found asleep at the wheel of his Mercedes on May 29 in Jupiter, Florida.

After attributing his condition to an "unexpected reaction" to the mix of medications he was on, the 41-year-old confirmed he was receiving professional help.

More positive news came last month when Woods revealed he had been cleared to start chipping and further progress towards a return has been made by the 14-time major champion.

"As I wrote earlier this summer, I had a few matters to work on with my doctors and I did that. I'm feeling good, strong and doing really well," Woods wrote in a blog post on his website. 

"About my most recent surgery, it's nice not to live in pain anymore. I'm sleeping better because I don't have any nerve pain going down my leg. It makes a world of difference.

"I'm starting to hit the ball a little further - 60-yard shots. I have not taken a full swing since my back fusion surgery last April, but continue to chip and putt every day.

"The latter is paying off. Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler have been dropping by my house for putting contests. Justin also comes over to practice his chipping. It was fun to celebrate his PGA Championship win with him and Rickie, and we had a blast.

"I have my six-month back X-rays coming up. Once my surgeon takes a look, he'll give me the parameters of what I can do moving forward.

"I'm working out six days a week, alternating between the treadmill, bike riding, swimming and lifting twice a day. My muscle tone is coming back, but I'm not in golf shape yet. That's going to take time.

"Playing wise, I'm not looking ahead yet because I don't know what kind of swing I'm going to use. I just don't know what my body is going to allow me to do. Until I do, I'm going to listen to my doctors and continue to take it slowly."