Tiger Woods will return to play for first time since Masters

AP photo by Mark Baker / Tiger Woods lines up a putt on the 16th hole at Augusta National during the second round of the Masters on April 8.

Tiger Woods showed he could walk a golf course for four days while caddying for his son.

Now he has decided he is fit enough to try to play again.

Woods announced on social media Saturday he will be playing in the Hero World Challenge, the 72-hole, no-cut tournament that starts Nov. 30 at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas.

It will be the 15-time major champion's first time competing since he withdrew before the third round at the Masters in April after battling the wind and cold while playing on his injured right leg.

His TGR company announced the decision by Woods to take a sponsor exemption. The 20-man field is for the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, though the tournament host — that would be Woods — is exempt.

In an interview with The Associated Press last week to discuss his ownership of a team in the tech-driven TGL league, the 47-year-old Woods said said his right ankle is pain-free after being fused in a surgery in April after the Masters.

"My ankle is fine. Where they fused my ankle, I have absolutely zero issue whatsoever," said Woods, who hasn't won a tournament since tying Sam Snead's PGA Tour record with his 82nd career victory at the Zozo Championship in October 2019. "That pain is completely gone. It's the other areas that have been compensated for."

He compared it to when he had fusion surgery on his lower back. He said the L5 and S1 vertebrae were fine.

"But all the surrounding areas is where I had all my problems and I still do," he said. "So you fix one, others have to become more hypermobile to get around it, and it can lead to some issues."

Woods recently caddied for his son, Charlie, at the Notah Begay III Junior Golf Championship, sparking speculation that he was close to playing again.

Woods will be playing the Hero World Challenge for the first time since 2019. The event was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then he badly damaged his right leg in a February 2021 car crash outside of Los Angeles that threatened to end his career.

He returned a year later at the Masters and made the cut, and he played in two more majors, including what figures to be his final competitive appearance at St. Andrews in the British Open.

He has said his tournament play would be limited, and he played only the Genesis Invitational, which he hosts, and the Masters this year.