After going 16 months without teeing it up in a tournament, Tiger Woods plans to play four times during an early five-week stretch in 2017. What a difference a year makes.
News of Woods’ early commitments to the Farmers Insurance Open and the Honda Classic broke on Wednesday. And on Thursday, the 14-time major champ kept filling up his schedule with the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic announcing a Woods appearance.
Sprinkle in Woods’ earlier commitment to play in the Genesis Open at Riviera and it all adds up to a busy span. Starting Jan. 26, Tiger will play at Torrey Pines and in Dubai the following week. After an off week, he’ll head back to California for the Genesis Open and then fly home to play in the Honda Classic. We take it his back is feeling pretty good.
Playing four times in five weeks isn’t crazy for the average tour pro, but it’s a pretty ambitious schedule for a 41-year-old with a surgically repaired back (and knee) – especially one who has played so little the past two injury-riddled years.
Although the earliness with which these commitments were made and the fact they’re so closely grouped is a bit surprising, none of the tournaments themselves are. Woods has traditionally started his year at Torrey Pines, a place where he’s won eight times, including his last major championship at the 2008 U.S. Open. His agent, Mark Steinberg, has hinted he’d play in Dubai, an event he’s won twice before. The Genesis Open is partnered with the Tiger Woods Foundation, and the Honda Classic is practically played in his backyard.
Following Woods’ encouraging start at the Hero World Challenge (He finished just 15th of 18 players, but led the field with 24 birdies), he said, "I would like in my heart of hearts to play a full schedule next year" in 2017. For now, it seems like he’s following his heart. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of his body cooperates.