Two weeks after posting a video of himself advancing to hitting a driver in his rehab, Tiger Woods is officially coming back.
The 14-time major champion announced Monday afternoon that he will make his long-awaited return to competitive golf at the upcoming Hero World Challenge, Nov. 30-Dec 3.
Posting the announcement to Twitter, Woods joked that he’d like to “thank the committee of 1” for receiving one of two sponsor exemptions into the 18-player tournament for which he has served as the longtime host.
Woods hasn’t competed since withdrawing after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic in February due to a lingering back injury. Less than two months later, he underwent a fourth career back surgery, which kept him sidelined for the remainder of the 2016-17 PGA Tour season.
“I am excited to return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge,” Woods said in a statement. “Albany is the perfect setting and it will be great to join this outstanding field.”
According to Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, the golfer called him Monday to make it official.
“He said, ‘I’m ready to go; I’m ready to play,'” Steinberg said. “He wasn’t being too aggressive. He’s taking it slow and progressing each day and called and said he’s ready to commit. He’s excited about taking this next step.”
Asked what is different about this return compared to the one at the Hero World Challenge a year ago — when Woods waited more than a year following his third back surgery — Steinberg said, “He honestly put no expectations on this surgery and what the future was going to hold,” referring to the April 19 fusion.
“So it’s hard to compare it to anything. It was a completely different surgery than he had in the past. He honestly was putting no expectations on it, so for him to say he’s ready to play ,I don’t think he can compare it to anything else.”
Woods made a similar return from injury at this same event last year, finishing in 15th place (17 golfers completed four rounds), but in a tie for the tournament lead in birdies with champion Hideki Matsuyama.
A month later, Woods missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, which was followed by the withdrawal in Dubai a week later.
Woods pleaded guilty Friday to reckless driving in a deal that will keep him out of jail as long as he stays out of trouble, resolving charges from an arrest last spring in which he was found passed out in his Mercedes on May 29 with prescription drugs and marijuana in his system.
Woods has said he had been self-medicating to relieve the pain from his fourth back surgery and insomnia.
For 683 weeks, including 281 consecutive, Woods was the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, though his limited recent playing schedule currently finds him at No. 1180.
He will turn 42 years old less than four weeks after the final round of the Hero World Challenge.
The tournament field of 18 is comprised of only players ranked among the top 50 in the world, but due to a 2015 rule change, Woods — as tournament host — can receive one of the sponsor exemptions regardless of his ranking.
Daniel Berger, winner of the FedEx St. Jude Classic and member of the winning United States Presidents Cup team, joined Woods to fill out the remaining two spots in the field.