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Tiger Woods announced on Monday that he will return to competitive golf for the first time in nine months at the unofficial Hero World Challenge Nov. 30-Dec. 3 at Albany, in the Bahamas.
Woods, who turns 42 on Dec. 30, has not played a competitive round since the first week of February. Citing back pain, he withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after shooting 77 in the opening round, which came one week after a missed cut at the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Those were the only two events that Woods has played in 2017 on the heels of only playing once in 2016.
Woods, the 14-time major champion now ranked No. 1,180 in the world, last finished a 72-hole tournament at the no-cut 2016 Hero last December, where he tied for the field lead in birdies (24) and finished in 15th place. There, though competitively rusty, he impressed onlookers with the array of shots he played, and with his ability to score. He fired a bogey-free 65 in the second round, and optimism abounded for a big year ahead.
But that lasted only a matter of weeks. Woods has undergone four surgical procedures on his back, the latest performed in April to “alleviate ongoing pain in his back and leg.” He last was seen in golf circles at the Presidents Cup at Liberty National earlier this month, where he served as vice-captain to Steve Stricker on the winning U.S. side. Lately, he has posted videos of himself hitting golf shots in shorts.
Woods keeps a home at Albany, the tournament site, and he is a five-time champion of the Hero, a tournament that generates charitable funds for the Tiger Woods Foundation. The field includes six of the top-10 players in the world, including the top four: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas.
“Albany is the perfect setting and it will be great to join this outstanding field,” said Woods, who was added to the field as a sponsor exemption alongside Ryder Cup player Daniel Berger.
“I want to thank (CEO) 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.”