Woods headlines Hero World Challenge field

Tiger Woods was included in the release of the 18-man field for next month’s Hero World Challenge, lending further confirmation that he is on track to make his first competitive start in 16 months.

Woods has not played since the 2015 Wyndham Championship because of multiple back surgeries. He committed to play earlier this month at the season-opening Safeway Open, but abruptly withdrew days after offering his formal commitment.

Woods cited a “vulnerable” golf game as the reason behind his withdrawal, but indicated that he still planned to play in the Bahamas – plans he re-affirmed Tuesday. Woods, whose charitable foundation operates the tournament, hasn’t played the event since it was staged at Isleworth Golf Club in Orlando, Fla., in 2014.

“I am excited to make my return at the Hero World Challenge at Albany and play in this terrific tournament,” Woods said in a release. “This is our 18th year, and every year we put together a top field that showcases the best golfers from the previous season.”

Joining Woods in the field for the Dec. 1-4 event will be defending champ Bubba Watson and current major champions Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Jimmy Walker. Jordan Spieth, who won the event in 2014, will also return.

Rounding out the field will be Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Russell Knox, Brandt Snedeker, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, J.B. Holmes, Emiliano Grillo and Zach Johnson.

The field includes the defending champion, the reigning major winners, two tournament exemptions and the top players available from the world rankings on Sept. 26. This year’s exemptions were offered to Woods and Zach Johnson.