Tiger Woods missed his second straight Masters this week with nagging back pain, but his return to the PGA Tour could come sooner than expected.
Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay III, a friend of Woods, believes the 14-time major champion could play as soon as next month.
"[The Masters] probably wouldn't have been the best place for Tiger to start the year out after this most recent setback, and I think we should probably look, maybe something just after The Players Championship," Begay said, via golfchannel.com.
"Oh, [the U.S. Open] a definite possibility," he added. "That's probably the event that's circled on his calendar, but he's got to at least get one or two starts in before that to see where his body, where his game's at and if he can hit the shots he wants to hit."
Woods has not played since theDubai Desert Classicin February, when he was forced to withdraw with back spasms after an opening-round 77.
TheAT&TByron Nelson and the Memorial Tournament at famedMuirfield Village, a tournament Woods has won five times, would be the most likely tournaments for Woods if he is healthy enough to play tune-ups before the U.S. Open.