Tiger Woods will make return to action next week
Former world number one to play first tournament since back surgery in March
Tiger Woods will return to action in the Quicken Loans National next week following back surgery. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA
Former world number one Tiger Woods will return to action in the Quicken Loans National, which benefits his foundation, on the PGA Tour next week.
Woods missed the year’s first two Major championships after undergoing back surgery on March 31st and has not played since the WGC-Cadillac Championship earlier that month.
The 38-year-old wrote on his Facebook page on Friday: “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.”
Woods had said on May 19th that his recovery was “slow and tedious” adding: “As of right now I can chip and putt but that’s it.”
But in response to a report on Tuesday that he had stepped up his practice regime, the 14-time Major winner’s agent Mark Steinberg told the PGA Tour’s website: “Tiger is making continual progress. He feels better each day and (is able to) extend his swing as he moves forward.”
Barring any relapse, Woods will be able to contest the British Open Championship from July 17th-20th at Hoylake, where he won the last of his three Clarets Jugs in 2006.
Asked last month how long he would need to become competitive once given the all-clear by his doctors, Woods said: “I don’t know, when I come back and start ramping it up, how far I am away from being explosive. Do I still have that capability of hitting the ball like that?
“Once I start feeling like that, I don’t think it would take more than a couple of weeks to where I can get out there and feel like I can compete. The great thing (is) what I’ve done so far, and after all my previous surgeries, is worked on my short game. Once I start competing, if I start spraying it all over the lot, at least my short game’s solid.”
Injuries have now kept Woods out of six Majors since he won his 14th in 2008 at the US Open. Knee surgery following that victory led to an eight-month lay-off and caused him to miss the British Open and US PGA championships.
In 2011 he missed the US Open and British Open due to knee and Achilles injuries, while this year’s back surgery meant he missed the Masters for the first time in his career and the US Open at Pinehurst last week.
That has cast further doubts on his ability to surpass Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 Major titles, but Woods remains bullish about his prospects.
“The only doubts I had were prior to the surgery,” he added on May 19th in a press conference to promote next week’s tournament. “I couldn’t function any more. I’ve had knee surgeries in the past and yeah I was hurting going into it, but I was functioning.
“Right before this surgery I couldn’t do much. Forget about playing golf at the highest level, I couldn’t get out of bed.
“Prior to the surgery I didn’t think I would have much of a playing career if I felt like this, but now I’ve had the procedure I am excited about what the prospects hold. I am excited about my career.”