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Tiger Woods sets sights on October return to PGA Tour

Tiger Woods hasn’t played competitive golf in more than a year. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 11:00 AM

Hello world. Again.

Tiger Woods, who hasn’t played competitive golf for more than a year while he has been recovering from multiple back surgeries, is planning to tee it up again. The former world No. 1 golfer announced via his website, TigerWoods.com, on Wednesday morning that he hopes to make his long-awaited return to competitive golf at the Safeway Open in Napa, Calif. The PGA Tour event begins Oct. 13.

“My rehabilitation is to the point where I’m comfortable making plans, but I still have work to do,” Woods wrote on his website. “Whether I can play depends on my continued progress and recovery. My hope is to have my game ready to go. I’m looking forward to going to California for my foundation event and Safeway. I’m also excited to return to Turkey and Albany (Bahamas). It could be a fun fall.

Woods, 40, appers set to resume his 20-year professional golf career after famously announcing he was turning professional with his “Hello, World” at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open.

Woods’ website post also says he intends to play the Turkish Airlines Open (Nov. 3-6) on the European Tour. And then he intends to play another PGA Tour event, the Hero World Challenge, (Dec. 1-4) in the Bahamas. The Tiger Woods Foundation is the host of Hero World Challenge.

Pro golf during the fall and winter usually doesn’t generate much attention, but that figures to change with the return of Woods.

If he stay healthy, and his first few evens go well, Woods will presumably resume a full schedule in 2017. Before he returns to playing, he’ll serve as a vice captain for captain Davis Love III on the U.S. Ryder Cup team later this month at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minn.

Woods last played a PGA Tour event, the Wyndham Championship, in August 2015. He was playing in the event just in an attempt to get a win and make the FedEx Cup playoffs, which could have saved a lost season. He finished tied for 10th, his best finish of the year.

But Woods played in pain and underwent microdisectomy back surgery soon after. The surgery was not successful and he had to have a clean-up procedure about a month later. It was a the third operation on his back, the first coming in September of 2014.

Woods has been on the shelf since the 2015 Wyndham Championship. He missed all four majors in 2016, the first time that’s happened in his career. In interviews, he has often sounded bleak about his prospects of playing again at a high level. Woods was the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer for a record 683 weeks, dwarfing the next player on the list, Greg Norman at 331 weeks. But with no wins since 2013 and all the time away, Woods’ world ranking has tumbled to No. 711. Jason Day is currently ranked No. 1.

“It was difficult missing tournaments that are important to me, but this time I was smart about my recovery and didn’t rush it. It was great spending time with my children Sam and Charlie, and also working on a lot of projects including golf-course design, the upcoming 20th anniversary of my foundation and my book about the 1997 Masters. But I missed competing. I want to thank all the fans for their kindness and concern. I’ve been a pro about 20 years, and their support has never waned,” Woods wrote on his site.

Woods has won 14 major championships, trailing only Jack Nicklaus, who has 18. He’s also captured 79 PGA Tour victories, second only to Sam Snead’s 82.

But Woods has mostly been in stuck in the rough since his last major title, the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, during which he limped to victory against Rocco Mediate. Woods, playing on an injured knee, won after an 18-hole playoff went into sudden-death. He was able to finally put away Mediate on the 19th hole of the playoff. Shortly after the U.S. Open, he underwent knee surgery and missed the remainder of the 2008 season.

His career spiraled downward on Thanksgiving night, 2009, when he crashed his car into a fire hydrant and was eventually caught in a sex scandal, and admitted later to cheating on his wife, Elin Nordegren. Woods took time off and went to sex rehab. Woods and Nordegren divorced. He had a very public romance with Olympic champion skier Linsdey Vonn, which ended in 2015.

Woods returned to play in the Masters in 2010, but hasn’t won a major since 2008. He looked to be on the rise again in 2013, when he won five times on the PGA Tour and nearly won the Masters. He was cruising along at Augusta before his third shot on the par-5 15th hole hit the flag stick and rolled back into the water. He took a penalty drop and made bogey 6. Later, it was ruled the drop was illegal, too far away from the point of his original shot, and his 6 turned into an 8.

What at first looked like a sure birdie 4 on No. 15 became 8, and he ended up finishing second to Angel Cabrea by four shots.

His last win was the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational.

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