Tiger Woods announced Wednesday that he will return to tournament golf for the first time since his February car crash at next week’s PNC Championship, an unofficial PGA Tour Champions event that features parent-child teams.
“Although it’s been a long and challenging year, I am very excited to close it out by competing in the @PNCchampionship with my son Charlie,” Woods wrote on Twitter. “I’m playing as a Dad and couldn’t be more excited and proud.”
The 36-hole tournament is scheduled for Dec. 18 and 19 at Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando. It will be televised by Golf Channel and NBC.
Last month, Woods announced that his days as a full-time professional golfer are over after he suffered severe leg injuries in a high-speed crash Feb. 23 in Southern California. Woods suffered comminuted open fractures to the tibia and fibula in his right leg, which means both bones broke into at least three pieces and broke through the skin. He also suffered foot and ankle injuries and said amputation of the leg was “on the table.”
While Woods ruled out a full-time professional schedule, he said he anticipated playing in a few PGA Tour events.
“I think something that is realistic is playing the tour one day — never full time, ever again — but pick and choose, just like Mr. [Ben] Hogan did. Pick and choose a few events a year, and you play around that,” Woods told Golf Digest, citing the golf legend who recovered from serious injuries suffered in a 1949 car crash to win six more major titles while playing a limited schedule. “You practice around that, and you gear yourself up for that. I think that’s how I’m going to have to play it from now on. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s my reality. And I understand it, and I accept it.”
At the time, Woods, who turns 46 on Dec. 30, declined to put a timetable on his return to competition. But he was optimistic that his return could happen, though he didn’t “foresee this leg being ever what it used to be.”
“To ramp up for a few tournaments a year ... there’s no reason I can’t do that and feel ready,” he said. “... I’ve come off long layoffs, and I’ve won or come close to winning before. So I know the recipe for it. I’ve just got to get to a point where I feel comfortable where I can do it again.”
The PNC Championship is a stroke-play event played in a scramble format, in which both players from each team tee off and then decide which shot is best. The players then hit their next shots from the spot where the selected drive lies, repeating that process until the hole is complete. As an unofficial event of the PGA Tour’s circuit for players 50 and over, golf carts are allowed.
Woods has been spotted playing golf with his son as he recovers from his injuries. In announcing his plans last month, the 15-time major winner said he could — in the short term — imagine himself playing low-stakes “hit-and-giggle” events, which aptly sums up the PNC Championship.
From May: Tiger Woods says car-crash injuries are ‘more painful than anything I have ever experienced’