Tiger Woods 'hopes' to return in October, opening 2016-17 season at Safeway Open

Tiger Woods is back ... or at least he has announced when "hopes" to be back.

On Wednesday, Woods said that he plans to play the Safeway Open, October 13-16 at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California. This tournament was formerly known as the Frys.com Open. He is additionally planning to play the Turkish Airlines Open and the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas this December.

"My rehabilitation is to the point where I'm comfortable making plans, but I still have work to do," Woods wrote on his website. "Whether I can play depends on my continued progress and recovery. My hope is to have my game ready to go. I'm looking forward to going to California for my foundation event and Safeway. I'm also excited to return to Turkey and Albany. It could be a fun fall."

Woods has not played a professional event since the Wyndham Championship last August, a tournament in which he was in contention. After that, he had his second and third back procedures.

Phil Mickelson has also committed to play the Safeway Open, so all of a sudden we're going to have a major-like atmosphere in the middle of October for the first event of the 2016-17 season.

This certainly surprises me. I've been riding the "Tiger will return at the Genesis Open at Riviera in February 2017" train for quite a while now. It doesn't make a ton of sense for him to play at all in 2016 unless he is completely healthy (which I presume he is).

His pal Notah Begay recently said that whenever Woods returns it will likely be his last run as a pro. The last chapter. I believe it. Three back procedures in less than two years is a big deal when you swing with the ferocity of a Tiger Woods.

"It was difficult missing tournaments that are important to me, but this time I was smart about my recovery and didn't rush it," added Woods. "It was great spending time with my children Sam and Charlie, and also working on a lot of projects including golf-course design, the upcoming 20th anniversary of my foundation and my book about the 1997 Masters. But I missed competing. I want to thank all the fans for their kindness and concern. I've been a pro about 20 years, and their support has never waned."

It's going to be fascinating to see how this last portion of one of the great careers in modern sports history unfolds. Will he try to be 22-year-old Tiger, or will he play the role of laid-back, wily Tiger who can win tournament with his head in lieu of his ball-striking?

We will find out how that chapter begins in just over one month.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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