(Reuters) - Tiger Woods announced on Wednesday that he hopes to make his competitive return to golf next month, beginning with the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, California, after spending more than a year on the sidelines.
The 14-times major winner also said, depending on “my continued progress and recovery”, that he intends to compete at the Turkish Airlines Open in November and the Tiger Woods Foundation-run Hero World Challenge in December.
Woods, the greatest player of his generation and arguably of all time, has not played competitive golf since the Wyndham Championship in late August 2015 and has been recovering from multiple back surgeries.
“My rehabilitation is to the point where I‘m comfortable making plans, but I still have work to do,” Woods said in a statement posted on his website.
“Whether I can play depends on my continued progress and recovery. My hope is to have my game ready to go.”
The Safeway Open, the season-opening event on the 2016-17 PGA Tour, will be played from Oct. 13-16 at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa.
Woods missed all four majors in a calendar year for the first time in 2016, and made just 11 tournament appearances in 2015.
Since the end of 2013, the former world number one has competed in only 18 events on the PGA Tour while being blighted by injuries and poor form, recording just one top-10 during that period along with six missed cuts and three withdrawals.
“It was difficult missing tournaments that are important to me, but this time I was smart about my recovery and didn’t rush it,” said Woods, who will celebrate his 41st birthday in December.
”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,” said Woods, whose ongoing back problems led to surgeries in September and again in October. “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.”
Australian world number one Jason Day, preparing for this week’s BMW Championship in Indiana, told reporters on Wednesday he was glad to hear about Woods’ planned comeback.
“It’s great ... probably a lot of anticipation to see how the state of his game is,” Day said.
“I‘m definitely looking forward to watching those tournaments and seeing how his body holds up and how the mental side and obviously the golf side of things hold up as well.”
Woods, a child prodigy who was introduced to golf before the age of two, has not won a tournament anywhere since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and his title drought in the major championships dates back to the 2008 U.S. Open.
A 79-times winner on the PGA Tour, he was world number one for a record total of 683 weeks but his form has slipped dramatically in recent years due to injuries and the mastering of a new swing while his ranking has plummeted to a mind-boggling 711th after his long spell on the sidelines.
Additional reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris and Frank Pingue