Tiger Woods will return to tournament play at next week’s World Golf Championships event in Ohio, more than two months after withdrawing from the Players championship with knee and ankle injuries.
Woods announced his plans to play in the U.S. PGA Tour event at the Firestone Country Club in Akron in a statement yesterday on his website.
“I’m excited to get back out there,” Woods said in the statement.
Woods, who is pursuing Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major titles, originally was injured during the Masters Tournament in April. He missed the U.S. Open in June and British Open in July.
The Bridgestone Invitational, which starts Aug. 4, is the last U.S. event before the PGA Championship, golf’s final major of the season.
Woods will play in the tournament without longtime caddie Steve Williams, who was fired by the golfer on July 20 after 13 years together.
Williams, a 47-year-old New Zealander, had been Woods’s caddie since 1999 and helped him win 13 of his 14 major titles. Mike “Fluff” Cowan caddied for Woods during his first major victory, the 1997 Masters Tournament.
Bell May Caddie
The Golf Channel said yesterday that Bryon Bell, Woods’s longtime friend and current president of Woods’s golf course design firm, will be his caddie.
Woods has been recovering from left knee and Achilles tendon injuries. He has had four operations during his career on his injured knee, most recently in 2008.
Woods, 35, hasn’t played in a tournament since May 12, when he pulled out of the Players championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, after nine holes.
“In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have competed at the Players, but it’s a big event, and I wanted to be there to support the Tour,” Woods said when he withdrew from the British Open, an event he has won three times. “I’ve got to learn from what I did there and do it right this time and not come back until I’m ready.”
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland captured the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, at 22 the youngest major champion since Woods won the Masters in 1997. A second Northern Ireland golfer, 42-year-old Darren Clarke, won the British Open at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England.
Woods hasn’t won a tournament since November 2009. He’s fallen to No. 21 in the Official World Golf Ranking after holding the top spot for a record 281 weeks.