Tiger Woods will return to competitive golf next week, having recovered from back surgery well enough to play in the PGA Tour event he hosts outside of Washington. That will put him in position to prepare for the final two majors of the season.
He made the announcement in a short post on his Facebook page Friday afternoon, mindful that Friday at 5 p.m. is the deadline to enter the following week's tournament. Woods said: "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."
On March 31, Woods had a microdiscectomy, considered the most common form of spine surgery. Experts said at the time there is no uniform timetable for rehab, but the average recovery time is 12 to 16 weeks. By playing next week at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Woods would be slightly ahead of schedule. He will be the best drawing card possible for a tournament that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Earlier this week, there were reports that Woods -- out of tournament action since March 9 -- had progressed to taking full swings at his home club in Florida. By getting back on tour now, he will have weeks to get in shape for two majors, which will be on familiar ground. The British Open will be July 17-20 at Royal Liverpool, where Woods won in 2006, and the PGA Championship will be Aug. 7-10 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, site of Woods' 2000 title.
Neither of this year's first two majors has been riveting or popular among television viewers. Bubba Watson won the Masters convincingly and Martin Kaymer ran away with the U.S. Open. Each tournament received low ratings.
Woods has been out so long that his absence was not a big topic during the Open at Pinehurst, N.C. It wasn't until Rory McIlroy's interview on Wednesday of tournament week that it even came up in the interview room.
"I'm sad. I miss him, yes," McIlroy said, joking. "He's now going through his rehab process and everyone is just waiting for him to come back, whether that be in the middle of the summer, end of the summer, somewhere in there . . . When I say I do miss him, I sort of mean it because he's a great addition to the tour. And he has been the face of golf for the last 15, 20 years and golf is a better sport and better place with Tiger Woods in it. So hopefully, he has a speedy recovery and he gets back on the course soon, because any tournament where Tiger Woods is a factor, he creates a big buzz."