Tiger Woods announces return to golf next week at Quicken Loans National
Tiger Woods is back.
On his Facebook page Friday afternoon, Woods, 38, announced he would return to competitive golf next week at the Quicken Loans National held at Congressional Country Club.
"There was never a specific tournament that Tiger was pinpointing to play," Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent, told Golf.com. "As I have said, he was going to stay patient and listen to his doctors and trainers. As soon as he felt he was ready to take full swings with no ill effect, he would then look at a return.
"As for the future schedule, that is something we will assess on an ongoing basis."
Woods last played on March 9 at the WGC-Cadillac, where he finished with a Sunday 78 while suffering from back spasms. He had withdrawn in the middle of the final round at the Honda Classic with back pain a week earlier.
"After a lot of therapy I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week at the Quicken Loans National. I've just started to hit full shots but it's time to take the next step. I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape. Excited for the challenge ahead."
This year, Woods missed the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same season for the first time in his career. Woods hosts the Quicken Loans National -- formerly the AT&T National -- and has won this event in 2009 and 2012.
PGA Tour pro Billy Horschel tweeted his excitement over Tiger's return.
This is the second-longest break Woods has taken from golf because of injury. He missed the second half of the 2008 season when he had reconstructive surgery on his left knee just a week after winning the U.S. Open for his 14th major.
Even though he spent the offseason working on his body, there were signs early that something might be wrong.
He missed the 54-hole cut at Torrey Pines, where he was the defending champion and an eight-time winner at one of his favorite courses. He had his worst finish ever at Dubai when he tied for 41st. Then, he withdrew in the final round of the Honda Classic because of back spasms, and despite being in the penultimate group at Doral, he struggled badly with his back on the final day after taking a swing from an awkward stance outside a bunker.
Woods had microdiscectomy surgery a week before the Masters, and he has said in rare appearances that he did not know how long it would take to properly heal. His agent, Mark Steinberg at Excel Sports Management, said earlier this week that Woods was making enough progress to extend his swing.
Even so, playing the Quicken Loans National was thought to be too soon.
It couldn't come soon enough for the tournament.
"We're thrilled, obviously," said Mike Antolini, the tournament director and vice president of championships for the Tiger Woods Foundation. "Anytime you get that call and Tiger is in your field, it's really the best news you can get. The fact he's a two-time champion and the tournament hosts, we're very excited for the fans."
He said he expected a spike in ticket sales with Friday's announcement.
The strength of Quicken Loans National field has suffered in recent years as more Europeans moved into the top 20 in the world, and they headed across the Atlantic Ocean as the European Tour headed places like Ireland, France and Scotland leading up to the British Open.
Adam Scott, who has replaced Woods at No. 1 in the world while he has been out, was not planning to return this year.
"To be honest, we were prepared regardless for a good event," Antolini said. "Our ticket sales, we think they're going to be increased on this news now."
Three years ago, Woods withdrew after nine holes at The Players Championship because of an Achilles tendon injury and missed more than two months. He said then he had learned from past mistakes and would not try to return before he was in full health.
Assuming he is at full strength now, he likely will be at the British Open at Royal Liverpool and the PGA Championship at Valhalla, where he won majors the last time they were held on those courses. Woods been stuck on 14 majors since that '08 U.S. Open victory.
Woods is at No. 207 in the FedEx Cup — having played only three events — and could have as many as five events to reach the top 125. He also is at No. 67 in the Ryder Cup standings. U.S. captain Tom Watson has said he would use a wild-card pick on Woods, though he had eased off that position in recent weeks when the status of Woods' recovery was unknown.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.