Woods in return to pitching practice

Golfer works on short game after getting the medical all-clear, posts a video clip online

LOS ANGELES • Tiger Woods has made a step towards returning to competitive golf after being cleared by his doctor to work on his short game.

Woods, 41, last played in a competitive tournament at the Dubai Desert Classic in February. He withdrew from the first round of the tournament with back spasms and underwent a fourth back surgery in April.

"(Doctor) gave me the okay to start pitching," Woods wrote on Twitter and posted a video that showed him hitting balls with a wedge from just off the green.

A winner of 14 Major championships, second only to Jack Nicklaus' 18, Woods has barely competed over the last two years amid repeated surgery on his back.

He has still managed to generate headlines off the course, however, after being arrested for driving under the influence of an illegal substance near his home in Florida in May.

Toxicology reports revealed he had five drugs in his system - including painkillers and anxiety medication - at the time of the arrest.

Woods apologised to fans and blamed the incident on prescription medication he was taking to manage pain from back surgery.

The American also agreed to plead guilty to reckless driving and enter a diversion programme that will allow him to clear his record if he completes it.

In mid-June, Woods announced he was receiving "professional help" to manage his use of medications for back pain and insomnia and checked himself into a clinic.

Last month, Woods and his former girlfriend Lindsey Vonn were caught in controversy, and threatened to file a lawsuit against a celebrity porn website for publishing nude photos of the pair.

It was reported that the photos shared online were hacked and leaked from Olympic skier Vonn's mobile phone, according to US media.

Both Woods and Vonn threatened legal action before the photos were eventually taken down.

Since Woods' surgery in April, he has repeatedly stated that he wants to return to competitive golf but there exists no timetable for his return.

He is, however, expected to be present at this month's Presidents Cup, according to ESPN.

He will serve as an assistant captain for United States captain Steve Stricker. He served in a similar capacity at last year's Ryder Cup.

"It will be good to have him there. Guys are looking forward to it and I know he's looking forward to it as well," Stricker told Golf Channel.

"He wants to get back in the mix, and I know he's itching to get back out here, and this will be a first step for him."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2017, with the headline 'Woods in return to pitching practice'. Print Edition | Subscribe