NEW YORK, (Reuters) – Tiger Woods announced yesterday he will make his return to competitive golf at the Nov. 30–Dec. 3 Hero World Challenge at Albany in the Bahamas.
Woods, who continues to recover from back surgery and has not played competitively in nine months, will be part of an elite 18-player field.
“I am excited to return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge,” tournament host and 14-time major champion Woods said in a statement.
“Albany is the perfect setting and it will be great to join this outstanding field…”
The 41-year-old American has only played six competitive rounds in the past two years while trying to recover from multiple back surgeries.
Last year Woods also made a comeback at the same event, ending nearly 16 months on the sidelines, and finished 15th in a final field of 17.
He showed flashes of the brilliant golf that carried him to 14 major titles. However, he also delivered the inept, often finding sandy waste areas off the tee or with his approach shots.
As his back issues continued, Woods returned to the PGA Tour in January. He missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and shot an opening-round 77 a week later in Dubai before withdrawing.
In April he announced that he had undergone a fourth back operation in three years.
The winner of five tournaments in 2013, Woods has played just 19 events since.
“All of us would be overjoyed if Tiger Woods could come back and play at a high level,” Woods’ former swing coach Butch Harmon told Sky Sports. “He’s playing an appropriate event because there are only 18 players, even though they are top echelon players.
“It’s a more relaxed type of event. It’s his tournament. I think he’s going to feel a little more relaxed there. “We’ll have to see how he is physically, how he is mentally and how his nervous system holds up.”
Woods will not find the competition any easier this year with a top flight field that includes Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar and Justin Rose.
The Hero World Challenge will be the latest in a long-running comeback saga that has produced more downs than ups.
The most recent embarrassing setback came last Friday when Woods pleaded guilty in a Florida court to reckless driving and entered a program for first-time offenders, avoiding a conviction on the charge of driving under the influence (DUI) last spring.
He was found asleep in May behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz, which was parked alongside a road not far from his home on Jupiter Island.
Woods had five drugs in his system when he was arrested, but no alcohol, according to a toxicology report. Those drugs included generic forms of the painkillers Vicodin and Dilaudid; the mood drug Xanax; the sleeping pill Ambien, and a drug that contained THC, the active ingredient in marijuana