Tiger Woods is back, or at least he plans to be, announcing a planned three-event 2016 schedule as part of his comeback from a pair of Fall 2015 back surgeries.
Woods announced on his website that he intends to play the 2016 Safeway Open in Napa, Calif., from Oct. 13-16, the European Tour's 2016 Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, Turkey, from Nov. 3-6, as well the 2016 Hero World Challenge, which he hosts and is run by the Tiger Woods Foundation, from Dec. 1-4 at Albany Club in the Bahamas.
"My rehabilitation is to the point where I'm comfortable making plans, but I still have work to do," Woods said on his website. "Whether I can play depends on my continued progress and recovery. My hope is to have my game ready to go."
Woods last played competitively at the 2015 Wyndham Championship, where he finished tied for 10th place in a last-ditch effort to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. He spoke of hip pain that week, but he found in September in a visit to his doctor that the source of his pain was the same area of his back where a microdiscectomy was performed in March 2014. A second microdiscectomy was performed in September 2015, with an unspecified follow-up procedure in October 2015.
STORY CONTINUES BELOW
The 14-time major winner has gone through stops and starts in his recovery process, suggesting in February that he was "progressing nicely" with video of a single 9-iron hit into a simulator. Woods has said he's struggled to develop the ability to play and practice with the rigor he would like. At the Quicken Loans National Media Day in May, Woods hit three balls in a guarding water hazard on a 102-yard shot. However, Woods remained adamant that he was improving and would return to competition when he felt ready. There's apprehension in the tone of his statement, but he appears ready to dip his toe back in the water.
"It was difficult missing tournaments that are important to me, but this time I was smart about my recovery and didn't rush it," he said. "It was great spending time with my children Sam and Charlie, and also working on a lot of projects including golf-course design, the upcoming 20th anniversary of my foundation and my book about the 1997 Masters. But I missed competing. I want to thank all the fans for their kindness and concern. I've been a pro about 20 years, and their support has never waned."