Tiger Woods announced on his Facebook page and on his website Friday that he would be returning to action next week to participate in the Quicken Loans National, the tournament which benefits his Tiger Woods Foundation. The tournament, previously known as the AT&T National, will be played at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD outside of Washington, DC.
Woods has not played competitively since March 19, when he fired a final-round 78 to finish in a tie for 25th at the WGC Cadillac Championship. It was easy to tell he was hurting in that final round, and it hardly came as a surprise when he announced he was withdrawing from the Arnold Palmer Invitational just two weeks later. It was a bit more surprising when Tiger announced at the end of March that he had undergone microdiscectomy surgery for a pinched nerve in his back, and would not be playing in the Masters Tournament in April.
That was 12 weeks ago, and Woods said on his Facebook page on Friday that he had recovered well in therapy and “will be supporting my foundation next week at the Quicken Loans National.” He went on to say that he had “just started” to hit full shots, but that “it’s time to take the next step.” The next step for Tiger is to see if he can play competitively again, and perhaps to shoot for a 100 percent return for the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool beginning on July 17.
The Quicken Loans National is hosted by Tiger Woods, and it is clear that he felt the need to be a participant, rather than simply shake hands and hand out the trophy. The question being asked by some in the golf world is whether Tiger is, once again, pushing a little too hard and returning too quickly. His Facebook statement went on to say that he will be a little rusty, but Woods wanted to “play myself back into competitive shape.” The rest of the message simply said Tiger is excited to be facing the challenges of the next few weeks.
Media Day for Woods’ tournament was held a month ago, and at the time it seemed Tiger was in no shape to return for even the Open Championship, much less his own event. He spoke about his intent to take his rehab slowly, and the seriousness of not rushing back anytime soon. Woods history with injuries is extensive, racking up four knee surgeries, along with problems with his neck, elbow and Achilles.
The announcement that Woods would be playing in his foundation’s tournament next week seemed to come quickly, but the truth is he waited until almost the last minute. Woods’ decision to officially enter the competition came after 3:00 p.m. (ET) on Friday—less than two hours before the deadline for entry. According to his team, Woods would not have made the decision to play without the go-ahead from his doctors. Mark Steinberg, longtime agent for Tiger, said Woods would not commit to playing had he not tested his back under similar conditions to those he will face next week. “He wants to do the right thing for the long haul,” said Steinberg.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky