CROMWELL, Conn. — It has been 15 weeks since we last saw Tiger Woods on the golf course, with back pain, surgery, and rehabilitation filling his time since then.
Now he’s ready to return to competitive golf.
Acknowledging that he’ll be a bit rusty, Woods announced Friday that he will participate in next week’s Quicken Loans National, a tournament that benefits his foundation and where he serves as host. The news was delivered in a message on his Facebook page.
“After a lot of therapy I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week at the Quicken Loans National,” the message read. “I’ve just started to hit full shots, but it’s time to take the next step. I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape. Excited for the challenge ahead.”
Woods hasn’t played in a PGA Tour event since March 9, when he shot a final-round 78 at the Cadillac Championship, playing in noticeable pain.
He underwent microdiscectomy surgery March 31 for a pinched nerve in his back, which forced him to miss the first two major championships of the year: the Masters and last week’s US Open.
Now, assuming he can remain healthy, Woods has set himself up for a number of big events the rest of this season. He would be expected to play in the season’s final two major championships, both on courses where he has won majors; the British Open is at Royal Liverpool (where he won in 2006), and the PGA Championship is at Valhalla (2000).
After that, Woods likely would be involved in the FedEx Cup playoffs (the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston is the second event, and also benefits his foundation), then the Ryder Cup in late September.
Woods has been limited to just three PGA Tour starts this season, all forgettable. He tied for 80th at Torrey Pines, withdrew before the final round of the Honda Classic, then tied for 25th at Doral.
Because of all that inactivity, he has dropped from first to fourth in the world golf rankings, to No. 67 on the US Ryder Cup points list, and to No. 207 in the tour’s FedEx Cup points list. Only the top 125 qualify for the playoffs, and only the top 100 advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson has already stated that Woods would be a captain’s pick, if he’s healthy enough to play.
If all goes well next week at the Quicken Loans National, to be played at Congressional Country Club near Washington, D.C., Woods potentially could play the week after in The Greenbrier, which is two weeks before the British Open.Michael Whitmer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.