Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Golf

It's official: Tiger Woods to return to PGA Tour next week

Two weeks after the PGA Tour season ended, the next one starts Thursday, and for some fans it can't get here soon enough: Tiger Woods is returning to golf.

Woods made it official Friday by entering the Safeway Open in Napa, Calif., the first event on the tour's 2016-17 wraparound schedule. He said a month ago that he hoped to play the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort. He had until Friday afternoon to officially commit.

Woods last played on Aug. 23, 2015, at the Wyndham Championship in a last-minute bid to qualify for the 2014-15 FedEx Cup playoffs. A month later, he announced a second surgery on his back, and then a third one a month after that.

Though he also has had knee operations, Woods, 40, has never spent this long away from competition. And never has the No. 767th-ranked player in the world attracted so much attention.

"Silverado is the perfect course for him because it is so straightforward," tournament host Johnny Miller said last month when Woods indicated he hoped to play. "I think he'll love being back in California. If he can get a good first round … just get some confidence and springboard from there."

Woods also has said he plans to play the Turkish Airlines Open next month and then his Hero World Challenge the first week in December, giving him three tournaments in roughly three months to end the year.

The Safeway Open has a little extra star power next week. Phil Mickelson already has announced he will play, and PGA Tour officials are considering putting them in the same group for the opening round.

Wood sounded defeated last December in the Bahamas because he had no timetable for a return and no idea how long it would take his back to heal. He said at one point, "For my 20 years out here, I think I've achieved a lot, and if that's all it entails, then I've had a pretty good run. But I'm hoping that's not it."

Woods said last month his rehabilitation was to the point where he was comfortable making scheduling plans.

He was at the Ryder Cup as an assistant captain last week, mostly walking as he spent time with Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. Woods this week was named an assistant to Presidents Cup captain Steve Stricker, though Stricker said he would like to see Woods playing on the team at next year's event.

Woods hasn't won since the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational, the 79th title of his PGA Tour career. That left him three short of the record held by Sam Snead.

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