Tiger Woods, who has missed the last two Majors because of leg injuries, will return to competition at next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, the former world number one said on Thursday.
A seven-times winner of the event at Firestone Country Club, Woods has not played tournament golf since he pulled out of the Players Championship in May after completing just nine holes.
“I’m excited to get back out there,” the 35-year-old American said on his official website.
He posted on his Twitter account: “Feeling fit and ready to tee it up at Firestone next week. Excited to get back out there!”
While enjoying remarkable success in 11 appearances at Firestone, Woods tied for 78th last year, the first time he had ever finished outside the top four at the elite WGC event.
However, he will have to shake off plenty of rust when he tees off in next Thursday’s opening round. According to his website, he has only recently resumed hitting practice balls — on the advice of his doctors.
Woods, a 14-times Major champion, hurt his left knee ligaments and Achilles tendon during the Masters in April and has not competed since he withdrew from the Players Championship at Sawgrass on 12 May.
He later said he made a mistake in deciding to play that tournament five weeks after hurting himself at the Masters, adding that if he had not competed there he would have been fit enough for the next two Majors.
Woods, who has not won a Major since the 2008 US Open nor any tournament worldwide since 2009, ended up pulling out of the June 16-19 US Open at Congressional and the July 14-17 British Open at Royal St George’s.
“I learned my lesson at the Players,” Woods said last month. “I’ll come back when I’m 100 percent. I don’t know when that will be. But I’m getting stronger and more explosive.”
Woods has recovered from four knee surgeries over the years. This time, he did not have to go under the knife.
“We’re in the gym every day, most of the time two times, sometimes three times a day, and it’s the whole chain,” he said. “It’s not just the leg, it’s the whole body. Got to keep everything going.
“We’re testing it every day to see what it feels like … and push it as far as the leg will go. And each day it’s gotten better. We haven’t had any setbacks, which has been good.”
Woods, whose world ranking has slipped to 21st, has also been trying to rebuild his golf swing and his private life following the breakup of his marriage after he confessed to a string of affairs.
In addition, he will have a new caddie at next week’s Bridgestone Invitational, having fired his long-time bagman Steve Williams before last month’s AT&T National.
New Zealander Williams, who had been a regular caddie for Woods since 1999, has recently been carrying the bag for Australia’s Adam Scott.