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Woods progressing as he steps up recovery

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Tiger Woods, who had back surgery March 31, was reportedly hitting full shots, including his driver, during a practice session on Sunday © Getty Images
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Tiger Woods has advanced from chipping and putting as he continues to make progress in his comeback from back surgery, his agent confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.

"Tiger is making continual progress,'' Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told ESPN. "He feels better each day and is extending his swing as he progresses."

According to a report first on Golf Channel and then on Golfdigest.com, Woods wasn't watching the US Open on Sunday. Instead, he was hitting full shots, including his driver, at the Medalist Golf Club near his home in Jupiter, Florida. The report did not cite any sources.

Woods had back surgery on March 31 and has not spoken publicly since an appearance at Congressional Country Club on May 19, when he said doctors had not cleared him to go beyond chipping and putting.

He announced on his website on May 28 that he would skip the US Open, after missing the Masters in April.

Whether a return is imminent remains unclear. Woods would dearly love to play next week's Quicken Loans event, as the tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. But tournament week begins exactly 12 weeks after his surgery, while his recovery process was estimated to be three to four months.

What also is unknown is just how far along Woods is with his game and getting competitive. Hitting drivers would be a big step, as the longer clubs require more turn, torque and speed.

Asked on May 19 how long it would take him to get ready once fully cleared, Woods said: "When I come back and start ramping it up how far am I away from being explosive. Do I still have that capability of hitting the ball like that? But once I start feeling like that, I don't think it would take more than a couple of weeks to where I can get out there and feel like I can compete.

"Now, how rusty am I going to be? The more time you give me, I think the better I'll be. The great thing about what I've done so far and all my other previous surgeries is that I worked on my short game. Once I start expanding from there and start competing and playing, if I start spraying it all over the lot and not hitting it that great, at least my short game is solid. That's one of the positives to it.''

The "couple of weeks'' scenario - assuming there are no setbacks - does bring the Open Championship into play. The third major championship begins on July 17 at Royal Liverpool, where Woods clinched the last of his three Open titles in 2006.

Among the big storylines that week: Woods hit just a single driver on the sun-baked, rock-hard course - it was during the first round - for the entire tournament.

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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