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Saturday June 21, 2014 MYT 7:09:09 AM
Saturday June 21, 2014 MYT 7:10:04 AM
(Reuters) - Tiger Woods, out since late March after having back surgery, will return to competitive golf at next week's Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, the former world number one said on Friday.
Woods said he expected to be rusty but was excited to be returning.
"I've just started to hit full shots but it's time to take the next step," Woods said on his Facebook page. "I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape. Excited for the challenge ahead."
The June 26-29 PGA Tour event is hosted by Woods and benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.
“I think everyone’s surprised it’s next week because I don’t think anyone had a clue, but he knows his body better than anybody," two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen told Golf Channel.
But Woods agent Mark Steinberg said, “His doctors and trainers have given him the go ahead. He has been listening to them every step of the way."
Woods last played a competitive round on March 9 when he tweaked his back on the final day at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami and finished five over par for the tournament, tying for 25th after a closing 78.
Three weeks later he underwent a procedure to alleviate a pinched nerve in his back that had troubled him for months.
Canadian golfer Graham DeLaet had similar surgery in 2011. "It was a long road back for me," DeLaet said. "It took me a full year before I really felt I could compete out here. I’m sure he’s got a great team around him and he wouldn’t be making that decision if he didn’t feel healthy.”
Woods missed this year's first two majors, the Masters and U.S. Open, as he recovered and there was speculation that he could also miss the year's third major, the July 17-20 British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England.
The 38-year-old American has missed six major championships due to injury, and he remains stuck on his career tally of 14 wins in golf's blue riband events.
He has been increasingly plagued by injuries in recent seasons as the wear and tear of years on the tour have begun to take a toll.
Woods has not won on the PGA Tour since a seven-shot triumph at last August's Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio.
He was a two-time winner at Congressional when the tournament was called the AT&T National,
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto and Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Gene Cherry)
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