New York - Tiger Woods will play the Masters, making his return to tournament golf at the first major championship of the year next week.
"I'm playing the Masters," Woods said on Friday in a statement posted on his website.
The announcement followed weeks of speculation as to whether Woods would feel his game was up to Augusta National.
He hasn't played in a tournament since withdrawing at Torrey Pines on February 5 with back pain.
That followed a dismal showing at the Phoenix Open, and the 14-time
major champion announced the following week that he was taking an
indefinite break until he could improve his game to a competitive level.
Woods said all along that he hoped to play the Masters, and
anticipation that he would indeed tee it up next Thursday intensified
when he practiced at the famed course this week.
"It's obviously very important to me and I want to be there," Woods said of a tournament he has won four times.
"I've worked a lot on my game and I'm looking forward to competing,"
Woods said. "I'm excited to get to Augusta and I appreciate everyone's
The 39-year-old American, who claimed the last of his 14 major titles
at the 2008 US Open, will be coming off his longest layup before a
major since the 2010 Masters.
He finished equal fourth that year after five months off in the wake of his infamous sex scandal.
Woods, chasing the all-time record of 18 major titles won by Jack
Nicklaus, has fallen to 104th in the world rankings, falling outside the
top 100 for the first time since before his first PGA triumph at the
1996 Las Vegas Invitational.