Will Tiger Woods ever play competitive golf, leave alone win another professional title?

For a whopping 683 weeks, Tiger Woods remained world's No. 1 golfer. Today, after battling injuries and surgeries, he is out of action and is ranked 400th in the world. Come Monday, when the new rankings come out, he will slip further.

Worse, the man who turns 40 this month is not sure of either his recovery or his return to competitive golf. Two days ahead of the Hero World Challenge, an 18-player event that Tiger Woods Foundation hosts every December, questions were asked of his possible return to the course and the man had no answer.

Tiger, preparing to host the event outside America for the first time in 19 years set aside any optimism and said, “There is no timetable. So that’s the hardest part for me, nothing I can look forward to, nothing to build on. I am just walking, that’s it.”

A tinge of sadness in his voice wass hard to miss as he continued.

“For my 20 years out there, I have achieved a lot and if that’s all it entails, then I’ve had a pretty good run. But I am hoping that’s not it. I am hoping I can get back out there and compete against these guys. I really do miss it. I miss being out there with the boys and mixing it up with them and see who can win the event. That’s fun.”

Second only to Snead

The winner of 79 titles, including 14 majors, Tiger’s success is only second to Sam Snead’s record of 82 titles and Jack Nicklaus’s 18 majors.

When asked about life beyond golf, Tiger said, “I'll find other avenues, that being growing my foundation, golf course design or other projects I have going on right now that will certainly take up more of my time.”

Tepid comeback

Loss of form and worries on the fitness front had kept Tiger from making the kind of comeback the world expected of him. He played only seven events in 2014 and 15 in 2015. In September, he underwent a second microdiscectomy to remove a fragment that caused him pinched nerve. To ease the discomfort, another surgery was performed in October.

This past weekend, basketball great Kobe Bryant announced his retirement after injuries made him appear a diminished version of himself. Tiger’s words on Kobe’s decision to retire reflected the extent of similarities in their immediate challenges.

“Twenty years in the NBA is more than 20 years in most sports. The last three years he’s gone through some pretty tough injuries. The guy played a lot of basketball. You add up all those games, it takes a toll on the body and eventually it just doesn’t heal anymore.”