Golfing great Tiger Woods will make his long-awaited return to competitive action at the 18-man Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
Woods, 41, has not played since he withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic on February 3 with back spasms.
Two months later he had a fourth operation on his troublesome back in less than three years.
The 14-time major champion will be part of an 18-man field at the Albany Club from November 30.
Invitations are limited to the top 50 in the world for this unofficial money event on the PGA Tour but Woods, currently at 1,180 having been number one for 683 weeks in the world rankings, is exempt as the tournament host.
It is not unfair to suggest that one of the game’s finest-ever servants has undergone a difficult decade, both on and off the course.
He was sentenced to a year’s probation last week after pleading guilty to reckless driving in May.
The American, who won the last of his major titles in 2008, had back fusion surgery in April and barely an eyebrow was raised when, last month, he spoke of the possibility of never returning to competitive golf.
The Hero World Challenge features the world’s top four players, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas, plus England’s Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood.
Woods made a short-lived return after 15 months out at the same event in 2016.
Perhaps fortunately for Woods, the tournament has no cut.
A year ago, having returned after 15 months recovering from two back surgeries. he made 24 birdies, but finished 15th out of 18 players.
The tournament is not official on any tour, although it does award world ranking points.
Woods made his first PGA Tour start at Torrey Pines and missed the cut, and then went to Dubai and didn’t make it past the first round before his back began acting up.
Although he won five times on the PGA Tour in 2013, Woods has made just 19 starts since then, including one in 2017, at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.
He shot 76 followed by a 72 to miss the cut before more back surgery followed.
“I am excited to return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge,” Woods said.
“Albany is the perfect setting and it will be great to join this outstanding field.
“I want to thank Pawan Munjal and Hero MotoCorp for their continued support of this tournament and my foundation.
“I would also like to thank the fans for their unwavering support during my injury.”
Woods was an assistant to US Team Captain Steve Stricker at the Presidents Cup at Liberty National in September, where, appearing to be in good spirit, he spoke of a possible return to competitive golf.
“I don’t know what 100 percent means after eight surgeries,” Woods said.
“But I’ll try and get as close as I can to that number, yes. But as I said, we just take it one step at a time. It’s a process, and I’m in no hurry.”
By Bill Howell
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.