Tiger Woods at the Wyndham Championship last year.
Tiger Woods at the Wyndham Championship last year. Chuck Burton

Woods set to return after 15 months off

GOLF: Tiger Woods has endured three surgeries on his back in the past three years, but fellow golfing great Ernie Els says the American's head is the problem.

Woods is preparing for his first tournament in 15 months when he tees off in the Bahamas on Friday morning (2am AEST) on a course designed by Els.

The South African, who was runner-up to Woods seven times, says it's the mental scarring that the 14-time major winner must overcome.

"The talent's there. It's been proven. It doesn't go away," Els said.

"It's what you think of yourself.

"We look at this great player, but he's not seeing the same stuff in his own mind.

"A lot of us are like that. When you've achieved as much as he has ... it's a shock to the system not to play as good as you have been. To look at other people looking at you like 'hey, you're not the same guy', that's hard to take."

Woods hasn't won a tournament since his seven-shot victory in the Bridgestone Invitational in 2013 and hasn't played any tournament since the Wyndham Championship in August 2015.

Woods has had one false start, when he signed up to play the Safeway Open in October only to pull out three days later due to feeling "vulnerable".

"I can't wait to watch ... just to see him play," Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III said.

"The last time I saw him play I won. It's hard to believe it's been that long. I've seen his swing. I've seen him on video. He's sent me clips, and I've heard the description of how he feels. I'm excited to see him play."

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