By Evin Priest
IT’S official – Tiger Woods has confirmed one of the most anticipated comebacks in golf’s history will take place at next week’s Safeway Open, his first US PGA Tour event since August 2015.
The 14-time Major winner announced on Friday he would contest the tour’s season-opener in the Californian wine country of Napa, weeks after tentatively declaring he “hoped” to play in several events at the end of 2016.
Fresh from a successful debut as vice-captain for Davis Love III’s Ryder Cup-winning Team USA, Woods will finally end his longest injury layoff – spending 14 months recovering from a second microdiscectomy surgery on his back – in his home state of California, where he has notched 14 US PGA Tour victories.
The 79-time US PGA Tour winner will begin his quest to break Sam Snead’s record 82 titles, with Woods’ last victory coming at the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. That year, he claimed five tournaments and earned US PGA Tour Player of the Year honours for the 11th time.
Woods did not play on tour in 2015-16 and was limited to 11 starts during the 2014-15 season due to injury.
Woods said last month that he has been “smart about my recovery and didn’t rush it.” He also said he aimed to pay two other tournaments by year’s end: Turkish Airlines Open, November 3-6, in Antalya, Turkey, and the Hero World Challenge, December 1-4, at Albany in the Bahamas.
Australian amateur golf star Min Woo Lee captured this rare footage in April of Woods giving a clinic to competitors at the Sage Valley Invitational in South Carolina – a prestigious event for the world’s best amateurs.