Tiger Woods says he will return to golf at Quicken Loans National

Tiger Woods (AP file photo)

BETHESDA, Md. (WJLA) -- Tiger Woods unexpectedly announced Friday that he will return to golf by playing next week at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda.

The 38-year-old Woods has been recovering from back surgery on March 31 and has not played in a major tournament since the Doral Open, just prior to his operation. He missed both the Masters and the U.S. Open.

Woods' decision to play the QL came just a couple of hours before the entry deadline. He broke the news publicly with a post to his Facebook page:

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));Post by Tiger Woods.

This is the first year for a new title sponsor at the PGA Tour QL 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.

The announcement on Woods' Facebook page couldn't come soon enough for the tournament.

"We're thrilled, obviously," said Mike Antolini, the tournament director and vice president of championships for the Tiger Woods Foundation. "Anytime you get that call and Tiger is in your field, it's really the best news you can get. The fact he's a two-time champion and the tournament hosts, we're very excited for the fans."

He said he expected a spike in ticket sales with Friday's announcement.

The strength of Quicken Loans National field has suffered in recent years as more Europeans moved into the top 20 in the world, and they headed across the Atlantic Ocean as the European Tour headed places like Ireland, France and Scotland leading up to the British Open.

Clearly, Woods' decision also delivered a jolt of good news to golf overall. 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.

Woods, a 14-time major winner, has not won a tournament this season. The last major victory he captured was the 2008 U.S. Open.

Assuming he is at full strength now, he likely also will be at the British Open at Royal Liverpool and the PGA Championship at Valhalla, where he won majors the last time they were held on those courses.

Woods is at No. 207 in the FedEx Cup - having played only three events - and could have as many as five events to reach the top 125. He also is at No. 67 in the Ryder Cup standings. U.S. captain Tom Watson has said he would use a wild-card pick on Woods, though he had eased off that position in recent weeks when the status of Woods' recovery was unknown.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)