A great deal has changed for Tiger Woods since he last played competitive golf three months, yet the world’s most recognized golfer is ready to hit the links again.
Woods announced on his website and Twitter Thursday that he is returning to golf next week to play at the Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
“Feeling fit and ready to tee it up at Firestone next week. Excited to get back out there!” Woods said on his Twitter page.
This comes as the most positive news about Woods in weeks. Of course, our last image of him was when he had to withdraw from the The Players Championship on May 12 after nine holes after he suffered a mild medial collateral ligament strain and he aggravated his strained left Achilles tendon. Woods hasn’t played competitively since.
But he has continued to make headlines. last week he fired his longtime caddie Steve Williams, who then went on a media blitz to criticize Woods. And earlier this week, Woods dropped out of the top 20 in the World Rankings for the first time since 1997.
The conversation, however, should shift back to his game now. But even that may not be without controversy (the chatter about his childhood friend Byron Bell taking over as caddie not withstanding). Woods hasn’t been the golfer who dominated the game for more than 10 straight years since he was caught up in the sex scandal that ruined his marriage and sullied his clean image nearly two years ago. He has gone 20 months without winning, which seems like forever for a player who once racked up major titles at a clip.
It seems odd but Woods is in jeopardy of being kicked off the PGA Tour if he doesn’t perform well at the Bridgestone, followed by the PGA Championships. He has dropped from no. 81 to no. 133 in the FedEx Cup standings after not playing for three months. Only the top 125 players qualify for the opening round of the playoffs at The Barclays. That puts pressure on Woods to make up ground, but we’ve all seen what he can do when coming into a Sunday trailing by several strokes.
Don’t bet against him.