Tiger Woods returns to golf at the Hero World Challenge


Danny Morales

The Tiger Woods Foundation teamed up with Hero MotoCorp for the new title sponsor for the World Challenge.

A seemingly healthy Tiger Woods returns to competitive golf this week, as the Hero World Challenge kicks off tomorrow at Isleworth golf and country club.

“We are excited about this week,” said Woods. “Everyone here is ecstatic to have this type of field here, we’re looking forward to it. We are thrilled about the depth and talent of our field, and I’m looking forward to another exciting year of competition at Isleworth, a course I love,” added Woods.

Seven of the worlds top ten players will be in the 18 man field this week, a field that boasts a collected 167 PGA TOUR wins, including 21 major championship wins. Defending champion Zach Johnson will look to repeat, but will have plenty of competition from five-time champion Woods, two-time champion Graeme McDowell and 2014 Masters champion Bubba Watson.

This is the 16th annual Hero World Challenge, a tournament co-sponsored by the PGA TOUR and benefits both the Tavistock Foundation and the college-access programs of the Tiger Woods Foundation. The tournament moves from its traditional home in California to Florida for the first time, and also welcomes Hero MotoCorp as the new title sponsor.

“It’s great to welcome Hero MotoCorp as the tournament’s title sponsor. Their global presence will elevate our event to the next level,” said Woods. “I know everyone here at the foundation is excited about this partnership and we are looking forward to our relationship going forward.

Woods will be playing in a tournament for the first time since a missed cut at the PGA Championship in early August, one week removed from a withdrawal at at the World Golf Championships.

After having back surgery in late March, Woods missed the Masters for the first time in 20 years, and also was unable to defend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and at the The Players Championship before coming back at the Quicken Loans National in late July.

“I just sat back and basically during my rehab process and didn’t really have to do anything,” said Woods.  I wasn’t going to play for a while, and just wanted to kind of soak everything in and really have a clear plan of where I wanted to go.”

Woods went on to say- “I just now need to hit more balls, but the body is good. It’s nice to have ‑‑ I don’t have the sharp pain like I used to at the beginning of the year. I don’t have that anymore. I still have some aches and pains, just like anybody else who is my age and older.”

Woods is also going through a transition in his swing coach, having parted ways with Sean Foley and just recently picked up Chris Como as a “swing consultant.”

“I was very surprised and very excited to see what he felt my swing should look like and should look like going forward, because that was very similar to the vision I had,” said Woods. “I just needed to align myself with a person that felt the same way. Chris fits that for sure.”

Woods is just excited to be pain free and looks forward to this tournament being a catapult into a successful 2015 campaign.

“Looking back on it, it was not a fun situation…my body just wasn’t able to hold my joints in place, said Woods. “Now I’m able physically to hold things in position, and I haven’t had any of those type of pains.”

Woods tees off at 12:15 on Thursday, as the field will be competing for a $1 million top prize in the 72-hole, stroke play event.