Injury-hampered Tiger Woods will return to action next week as the 2016-17 PGA Tour kicks off with the Safeway Open. The former world number one and 14-time major winner expressed hope last month that his continued rehabilitation would reach a point where he could compete at Silverado Country Club in Napa, California. He has now officially committed to the four-day event.
Woods has not played a competitive golf tournament since last August, when he tied for 10th at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, finishing four shots behind eventual winner Davis Love III. The 40-year-old has undergone three back procedures since March 2014 and this year he missed all four major events in a calendar year for the first time since 1995.
He recently reunited with Love at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, where he served alongside Tom Lehman, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Bubba Watson as one of five vice-captains as the United States beat Europe 17-11 to claim their first Ryder Cup victory in eight years. He has also been named as one of Stricker's lieutenants for the 2017 Presidents Cup in New Jersey.
Confirming Woods' imminent return, the PGA revealed on Friday (7 October): "Out of action due to injury since August 2015, Tiger Woods will return to PGA TOUR competition next week at the Safeway Open, the first event of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season. Woods officially committed today to the event, October 10-16 at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California. Woods has 14 career TOUR victories in the state of California and finished tied for 30th in his lone previous start at the Safeway Open in 2011".
When announcing his tentative comeback plans in September, Woods further revealed that he hopes to travel to Antalya next month to compete in the first event of the European Tour's Final Series, the Turkish Airlines Open. He will also take part in his own invitational on the Monterey Peninsula in addition to the Hero World Challenge, a Tiger Woods Foundation benefit that takes place in the Bahamas between 1-4 December.
"It was difficult missing tournaments that are important to me, but this time I was smart about my recovery and didn't rush it," he said during that initial announcement. "It was great spending time with my children Sam and Charlie, and also working on a lot of projects including golf-course design, the upcoming 20th anniversary of my foundation and my book about the 1997 Masters. But I missed competing. I want to thank all the fans for their kindness and concern. I've been a pro about 20 years, and their support has never waned."