Tiger Woods expects to return to the PGA tour for next week's Quicken Loans National, 12 weeks after he underwent microdiscectomy surgery. Suffering from serious back problems, he hasn't played competitively since early March.
"After a lot of therapy I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week at the Quicken Loans National," Woods wrote on Facebook. "I've just started to hit full shots but it's time to take the next step. I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape. Excited for the challenge ahead."
Golf experts and fans are not expecting him to win the Quicken Loans National, which is a benefit for his charitable foundation. Instead, they are watching to see how healthy he is heading into next month's British Open Championship and then the PGA Championship in early August.
Doctors told Yahoo Sports last week that it takes a minimum of three months to recover from the surgery Woods had, which was to address nerve issues causing pressure and pain in his legs and back, and that he should be back to normal soon, though he missed the first two majors of 2014.
Earlier this year, Woods had to miss the Masters for the first time in 20 years due to his back injury, and his absence has hurt the sport of golf. Without the 38-year-old superstar and his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major tournament wins -- Tiger has been stuck at 14 major titles since 2008 -- the 2014 Masters had its worst television ratings in 21 years. Viewership was down by 40 percent on the tournament's first two days, compared to last year, Forbes reported. Saturday’s ratings fell by 30 percent and Sunday’s ratings dipped 25 percent.
In an article on golf.com, Josh Sens estimated that without Woods, golf could lose $15 billion, based on valuing the golf industry at $68.8 billion. The sport is already hemorrhaging weekend players. Losing weekend TV viewers is a problem that golf just doesn't need.