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Tiger Woods announces return to competition after long absence

If it feels like it’s been a while since you last saw Tiger Woods hit a golf shot, that’s because it has been a while. It’s been nearly four months since his teary-eyed walk up the 18th fairway at St. Andrews. That absence is coming to an end, and Tiger fans need wait just a couple more weeks.

Woods is joining the limited field in his own event, the Hero World Challenge, later this month at Albany in the Bahamas, just one week prior to playing in another edition of The Match with teammate Rory McIlroy against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

That officially makes the month of December “Tiger Woods Season.” Thank you for waiting so patiently. Woods announced the news Wednesday on Twitter, as well as the additions of Kevin Kisner and Tommy Fleetwood to the 20-man lineup.

This is not the first time Woods has reappeared from a long absence at the Hero World Challenge. He has actually used the event as a comeback kickstarter from various surgeries and injuries throughout the last decade. In fact, it was at this event last year where Woods first really started to show where he was health-wise. He didn’t compete in 2021, but he did go through multiple practice sessions on the Hero World Challenge driving range, showing off full swings with 3-wood and driver. It certainly got Woods fans riled up just in time to watch him and his son Charlie compete in the PNC Championship.

The last time we saw Woods he was missing the cut at The Open at St. Andrews, a disappointing effort but more emotional than anything. Woods walked up the 18th on Friday to an incredible ovation from the faithful crowd and was choked up by the scene. Afterward, he talked about how he wasn’t sure if and when he’d be able to compete on the Old Course in a future Open. If anyone knows how much life can change in the span of five years, it’s Woods.

That St. Andrews exit both was and was not a good example of Woods’ season. He grinded to make the cut in both the Masters in April and the PGA Championship in May, proving that even though it’s a hampered walk to the finish line, Woods still has the ability to get a passable score in the house. His opening 71 at Augusta National and second-round 69 at Southern Hills were two of the most viewed rounds all year long.

All of this brings us to wonder where exactly Woods’ game is at now. We’ve seen his stamina wane over the course of major championship weeks. But there was also no one demanding that he play a 12-hole 2-on-2 match against Spieth and Thomas. If he’s good enough for six days of golf in the Bahamas, followed by more competition the weekend prior, likely followed by playing with Charlie in the PNC Championship, it would seem like a positive sign for his continued comeback to normalcy.

Woods has said and repeatedly reminded the public that this new phase of his post-car crash golfing life will not include a full PGA Tour schedule. Even a majors-focused schedule took a back seat when Woods did not compete in the U.S. Open at Brookline. But the simple proof of life in the Bahamas hasn’t stopped fans from resetting impossibly high expectations in the past. During his 2017 comeback, Woods famously raced to the top of the leaderboard at the Hero, stirring up conversations about whether or not he could return to his peak.

What we know now is he’ll be competing on a course he knows well against a field filled with elite competitors. Kisner, ranked 31st in the world, is the lowest-ranked of Woods’ 19 competitors. If Woods can hang with that bunch, cue the countdown to the Masters.

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