Tiger makes comeback at own event

Updated: 2014-12-03 07:11

By Agence France-Presse in Orlando, Florida(China Daily)

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Tiger Woods returns to competition after a four-month injury layoff this week at Isleworth, the same gated community where his historic golf career began to unravel five years ago.

Woods, who has played only seven events in 2014 due to a nagging back injury, will make his comeback on Thursday at the Hero World Challenge, an 18-player invitational event that benefits his charity foundation.

Seven of the world's 11 top players will compete, including eighth-ranked Australian Jason Day in his return from a back injury and 11th-rated Jordan Spieth, coming off a victory in the Australian Open, but not world No 1 Rory McIlroy.

"We're thrilled about the depth and talent of our field," Woods said.

Woods, ranked 24th, moved the event this year from California to the same neighborhood where he drove into a fire hydrant in late November 2009. That began a series of revelations of a sex scandal that led to Woods' divorce from wife Elin in 2010 and damaged his once-perfect image with major sponsors.

Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, has not captured a major since the 2008 US Open.

Back, knee and leg injuries have hindered his pursuit of Nicklaus in recent years and Woods turns 39 later this month.

Tiger makes comeback at own event

No player has won more than three majors beyond his 39th birthday, something Woods must achieve if he is to catch Nicklaus.

The Challenge will be the first tournament for Woods since he named Chris Como as his new swing consultant last month following a split with Sean Foley in August.

"I'm excited to be back competing," Woods tweeted when he announced he was working with Como two weeks ago.

Woods underwent a microdiscectomy on March 31 to ease pressure on a pinched nerve, a surgery that caused him to miss the Masters and US Open.

This year, he missed two cuts plus a secondary cut at Torrey Pines and withdrew from two other events. He has finished 72 holes only twice this year - sharing 25th at Doral in March in his final event before surgery but wincing in pain at shots and when bending to pick his ball out of the hole - and taking 69th at the British Open in July.

Woods has not played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship at Valhalla in August, a week after tweaking his back in a stumble at a World Golf Championships event.

To stress the point Woods is healthy, his foundation tweeted a link to a Vine video on Monday showing Woods hitting a drive and also tweeted the message "He's back".

It is the same two-word message NBA legend and Woods pal Michael Jordan used to tell the world he was ending his retirement, heralding a comeback with the Chicago Bulls that doubled his career total of NBA titles to six.

Woods sponsors learning centers that educate 15,000 students each year and scholarships that have sent more than 100 youth to college.

"The foundation provides the resources our kids need to succeed," Woods said.

"Thanks to our amazing supporters we are able to make that happen."

(China Daily 12/03/2014 page23)