Tiger Woods is finally ready to come back to competitive golf after undergoing a second microdiscectomy surgery on his back in September 2015, followed a month later by a secondary procedure to clean up the work done in Utah by Woods’ surgeon, Dr. Charles Rich.
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After his Sept. 16 procedure, Woods did not give a timeline for his return to professional golf, but he did suggest a return in “early 2016.” It didn’t work out that way. However, Woods, after a 13-month absence from the PGA Tour shocked the golf world on Sept. 7, announcing he intends to play in three events in 2016: the Safeway Open from Oct. 11-14, the European Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open from Nov. 3-6 and the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas from Dec. 1-4.
The original indication after the microdiscectomy suggested Woods was looking to return in time for the Masters and the start of majors season. Following the second procedure, Woods would rightly be reluctant to put out a target date for his return. It may not be until the U.S. Open in June, if at all.
There has been a cloud of mystery around Woods’ recovery and potential comeback. A February report from Woods chronicler and golf journalist Robert Lusetich suggested Woods’ condition has worsened in the months after his surgeries. Lusetich tweeted that Woods had difficulty moving and has to ride in a car with the seat folded down flat. The implication is that Woods was the victim of a surgery gone bad. However, our reporting indicates that information was from the start of 2016.
In late February, Woods tweeted a video of him gingerly swinging a 9-iron into a simulator with the caption “Progressing nicely.” However, on April 1, Woods announced that he was not competing in the Masters.
Woods entered the 2016 U.S. Open and Open Championship. However, Woods chose not to play in either event, announcing ahead of the U.S. Open that his recovery is not far enough along to allow him to play a 72-hole tournament. Woods did not issue a statement when he withdrew from the Open at Royal Troon, nor when he withdrew from the PGA Championship.
In announcing his withdrawal from the fourth major of 2016, Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg said Woods said he will not start his comeback until at least October 2016, when the 2016-17 PGA Tour season starts in California.
Woods committed to play in the Safeway Open on the deadline Friday before the tournament, but he withdrew the following Monday, saying his game was “vulnerable” and not ready for public consumption. He said he would also withdraw from the European Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open.
Woods said he intends to play in the Hero World Challenge, an unofficial but PGA Tour-sanctioned event run by his foundation, played in the Bahamas from Dec. 1-4.