Golf: Tiger Woods to return to competition next week


Feeling rusty but ready to play again, Tiger Woods said Friday he would return to competition next week at Congressional in the Quicken Loans National.

Woods last played on March 9 at Doral, where he dealt with pain in his lower back and closed with a 78 for his highest final-round score on the PGA Tour. He had back surgery March 31, forcing him to miss the Masters for the first time. He also missed the U.S. Open last week at Pinehurst No. 2.

The announcement on his Facebook page delivered a jolt of good news to golf. Woods has been the game’s biggest draw since he turned pro in 1996, and with limited information about his recovery, speculation was starting to build that he might not make it to any majors this year.

“After a lot of therapy, I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week at the Quicken Loans National,” Woods said 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.”

This is the first year for a new title sponsor at the PGA Tour event that donates its charity money to the Tiger Woods Foundation, and the tournament earlier this year secured an agreement to return to Congressional every other year through 2020.

Woods on Thursday announced that he signed a new endorsement deal with MusclePharm, which will display its logo on his golf bag.

“He has been the face of golf for the last 15, 20 years, and golf is a better sport and a better place with Tiger Woods in it,” two-time major champion Rory McIlroy said last week at the U.S. Open. “So hopefully, he has a speedy recovery and he gets back on the course soon, because any tournament where Tiger Woods is a factor, he creates a big buzz.”

This is the second-longest break Woods has taken from golf because of injury. He missed the second half of the 2008 season when he had reconstructive surgery on his left knee just a week after winning the U.S. Open for his 14th major.

TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP

CROMWELL, Conn. — Scott Langley took the second-round lead in the Travelers Championship, following his opening 64 with a 65 to reach 11 under 129.

Winless in two seasons on the PGA Tour, the 25-year-old Langley had eight birdies, a double bogey and a bogey in the second round at TPC River Highlands.

Michael Putnam, Harris English and K.J. Choi were a stroke back. Putnam had a 63, matching the best round of the day. English shot 64, and Choi 65.

Patrick Rodgers, the former Stanford star making his pro debut, was 5 under after a 69. Cameron Wilson, Rodgers’ college teammate who also was making his pro debut, missed the cut with rounds of 73 and 75.

Defending champion Ken Duke was 3 under after a 72.

Masters champion Bubba Watson, the 2010 Travelers winner for his first PGA Tour title, followed his opening 67 with a 72 to make the cut by a stroke.

Erik Compton, the two-time heart transplant recipient who tied for second Sunday in the U.S. Open, missed the cut. He had a 69 in the second round to finish at 3 over.

ENCOMPASS CHAMPIONSHIP

GLENVIEW, Ill. — Tom Lehman birdied four straight holes and finished with a bogey-free 7-under 65 to take the first-round lead in the Champions Tour’s Encompass Championship.

Finishing on the front nine, Lehman birdied Nos. 4-7 and closed with two pars at North Shore Country Club. The 55-year-old Minnesotan nearly holed out for an eagle on the par-5 sixth, leaving a 6-inch putt, and ran in a 15-footer on the par-3 seventh. He won the last of his seven Champions Tour titles in 2012.

Doug Garwood and England’s Roger Chapman were a stroke back at 66, and Mark O’Meara, Sandy Lyle, Jeff Sluman, Michael Allen, Bart Bryant, Kirk Triplett and John Inman shot 67.

Colin Montgomerie, the Senior PGA Championship winner in his last tour start, had a 69.

By wire sources