By Scott Kauffman
Tiger Woods announced Nov. 1 he is ready to return to competitive golf when he plays in next month's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. The comeback is perfect timing for the PGA Tour-sanctioned event considering Woods' namesake charitable foundation is the event organizer.
The elite 18-player field, which also features commitments from highly ranked Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson and Patrick Reed, will be played Dec. 1-4 at Albany, a private resort-style golf and marina community that Woods helped develop with Tavistock Group on the main island of New Providence.
Hall of Fame golfer Ernie Els designed Albany's link-style layout and Woods has a home in the exclusive private club community so the tournament also represents an opportunity to come home to a relaxing environment. Heading into 2017, Albany already welcomed more than 100 completed homes and will have another 100-plus homes completed in the next 24 months.
Homes are priced from $5 million and range from marina condo residences to golf course homes to oceanfront and equestrian estates.
Woods, who turns 41 on Dec. 30th, is ranked No. 831 in the world rankings and last played in the PGA Tour Wyndham Championship last August. After undergoing a second microdiscetomy surgical procedure 15 months ago, it was anybody’s guess if and when Woods would return to competitive golf. But that all changed three months ago when Woods pleasantly surprised the sports world and announced his return to the game.
Woods, who has dealt with injuries to his back, left knee, elbow, neck and wrist and missed considerable playing time in recent years, said it was difficult to miss tournaments but he was “smart about my recovery and didn't rush it.”
Woods hasn’t competed in a Tour event since he shot a final-round, even-par 70 to finish tied for 10th at the Wyndham Championship on August 23, 2015. A month later, however, Woods shut down his season and underwent his second microdiscetomy in Park City, Utah, a minor surgical procedure intended to relieve pain from a pinched nerve.
“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,” Woods said in his website statement. “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."
The 14-time major champion hasn't won one of golf's four biggest events since the 2008 U.S. Open. And he hasn’t won any event for that matter since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Whether Woods can ever win again on the Tour and beat Sam Snead’s all-time record 82 Tour wins is irrelevant to some fans.
What’s most important is Tiger is back prowling the links.