Woods set to re­turn to com­pet­i­tive golf next month

Stabroek News - - SPORT -

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 14time 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

Tiger Woods

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