Tiger Woods is not listed in the field for next week's Honda Classic, shedding some additional light on what the rest of his pre-Masters schedule might look like. He did not commit to the event by the 5 p.m. deadline on Friday, and thus will not play next week in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Woods played the Honda every year from 2012-14 and last teed it up at PGA National in 2018, when he finished 12th. The tournament amounts to something of a home game for Woods, who lives near the course in Jupiter, and there was some thought he might play given his decision to skip this week's World Golf Championships event in Mexico.
But the Honda falls right before a crucial two-week stretch: first, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, a tournament Woods has won eight times and one he greatly respects. The week after is the Players Championship, the richest tournament in golf and a virtual can't-miss for every professional who has qualified. It would appear that the choice to skip Honda was made with eyes on Bay Hill and the Players; since coming back from spinal fusion surgery, Woods has been wary of playing too much golf, so competing three straight weeks this early in the season never seemed likely.
“I just felt like I wasn’t going to be ready for next week,” Woods said of his decision not to play at Mexico at last week's Genesis Invitational. “I’m a little run-down, and playing at altitude as well isn’t going to help that. So take the week off.”
Last year, Woods played five tournaments before the Masters: the Farmers Insurance Open, the Genesis Open, the WGC-Mexico Championship, the Players and the WGC-Dell Match Play (he had planned to play at Bay Hill but pulled out due to a neck injury). This year, he has already played two: the Farmers and the Genesis. The Match Play, held two weeks before the Masters, will almost certainly be his final start before Augusta, so if he plays both Bay Hill and the Players, that would total five pre-Masters starts once again.
Woods struggled mightily with his putting last week at the Genesis Invitational, where a 76-77 weekend saw him finish 68th, last among players who made the cut. He said he battled some stiffness in the cool mornings but was not in any sort of worrying pain. His next start will present his third chance to win a record-breaking 83rd PGA Tour title.
Woods was not the only high profile golfer with a Florida residence who is not playing at the Honda. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy also is not in the field. Neither is Justin Thomas, who won the event in 2018, or Dustin Johnson, who has played four straight weeks.