What might Tiger Woods' schedule for the rest of 2020 look like?

April 16, 2020

Icon Sportswire

News of the PGA Tour’s revised, post-COVID-19 hiatus schedule elicited a common response from many golf fans: When will we next see Tiger Woods compete?

Woods hasn’t played a competitive round since Feb. 16, when he shot 77 on the Sunday of the Genesis Invitational to finish last among players who made the cut. He then opted to skip the WGC-Mexico Championship, the Honda Classic, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the Players Championship to rest what his agent called a “sore back.”

In a sit-down interview with GolfTV last week, Woods said he has resumed training and would have been fit to defend his Masters victory had the tournament happened last week. With the assumption that his back has improved and he’s healthy—and that the Tour schedule plays out as planned—let’s take a look at which events Woods might compete in this year. We’ll use a scale of 1-10, with 1 meaning no chance, and 10 meaning he’ll be there so long as his body will let him.

Charles Schwab Challenge, June 11-14, Colonial C.C., Fort Worth
Likelihood of playing: 5

Woods has played the stop at Colonial once in his career—way back in 1997, his first full year as a professional on the PGA Tour. He finished T-4, so his repeated decisions to skip this event likely boil down to it not fitting in his schedule, rather than any sort of aversion to the course. It’s reasonable to think Woods could be chomping at the bit to compete again, and this would present his first opportunity to do so. For that reason alone, it’s a hard maybe.

RBC Heritage, Harbour Town G. Links, June 18-21, Hilton Head, S.C.
Likelihood of playing: 3

Woods clearly doesn’t want to play back-to-back weeks very often, if at all, given the current state of his body and his priorities. He’s played Harbour Town just once before, finishing T-18 in 1999, always skipping it in recent years because it traditionally falls the week after Augusta. Assuming he’d only play one of the first two events (if that), our money is on Colonial over Harbour Town … though, come to think of it, he could travel in his boat and dock in Calibogue Sound.

Travelers Championship, TPC River Highlands, June 25-28, Cromwell, Conn.
Likelihood of playing: 4

On the strength of a remarkable effort from its tournament director and staff, the Travelers has rebranded itself from something of an afterthought to a top-tier non-major event that attracts many of the world’s best players. This, then, would be the most “prestigious” event of the opening three, though that sort of thing flies out the window in an unprecedented schedule like this. Woods has never played this event, as it usually falls the week after the U.S. Open.

Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit G.C., July 2-5, Detroit
Likelihood of playing: 2

Woods did not play in last year’s inaugural Rocket Mortgage, and it’s hard to imagine he’d make the trip to Michigan given how many huge events will take place later in the summer.

John Deere Classic, TPC Deere Run, July 9-12, Silvis, Ill.
Likelihood of playing: 2

Woods did play this event back in 1996, just one month after he turned pro, and finished T-5. We’re betting against him making a return after 24 years, for mainly the same reason as the Rocket Mortgage explanation above. Additionally, this falls the week before the Memorial, which Woods has played virtually every year he’s been able to.

Memorial, Muirfield Village G.C., July 16-19, Dublin, Ohio
Likelihood of playing: 9

It’s Jack Nicklaus’ tournament. It’s a hyper-elite field. Woods has played in this event every year he’s been healthy, including in 2019, when it was the only non-major he played between March and the FedEx Cup Playoffs in August. He’s a five-time winner at Muirfield Village, and it falls three weeks before the PGA Championship. There’s a chance this is Woods’ first tournament back, and the only start he makes before the PGA.

3M Open, TPC Twin Cities, July 23-26, Blaine, Minn.
Likelihood of playing: 2

Again, he’s not a big fan of back-to-backs, so if he’s feeling good enough to play around this time in July, it will be at the Memorial.

WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, TPC Southwind, July 30-Aug. 2, Memphis
Likelihood of playing: 5

It’s a WGC, which means a limited field, free money and a ton of World Ranking points. But it’s also the week before the PGA Championship, and Woods does not like to play the week before majors. He also showed in February, when he opted to skip the WGC in Mexico, that he does not view WGCs as can’t-miss events like he does the majors. It’s hard to imagine he plays four days in Memphis, where it will be hot and conditions won’t be anything like Harding Park, before flying across the country to San Francisco and playing a major.

Barracuda Championship, Tahoe Mountain Club, July 30-Aug. 2, Truckee, Calif.
Likelihood of playing: 1

If he’s playing this week, it’s at the WGC.

PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, Aug. 6-9, San Francisco
Likelihood of playing: 10

It’s a major championship, and Woods has played well at Harding—he beat John Daly in a playoff to win the WGC-American Express in 2005 and was 5-0 in the Presidents Cup in 2009. If he’s healthy, he’s playing.

Wyndham Championship, Sedgefield C.C., Aug. 13-16, Greensboro, N.C.
Likelihood of playing: 2.5

It’s the week after a major, which he almost always takes off. He’s only played this event once, and it came back in 2015 when he needed FedEx Cup points to make the playoffs. (He finished T-10 and did not make it.) It’s possible he’ll find himself in a similar scenario this year, but if he were to play and then make the playoffs, it would mean competing at least three weeks in a row. Not likely.

The Northern Trust, TPC Boston, Aug. 20-23, Norton, Mass.
Likelihood of playing: 7

Woods has played the FedEx Cup playoffs whenever healthy, so on paper you’d think he want to continue that trend. Here’s the thing, though—the U.S. Open falls two weeks after the Tour Championship, and the Ryder Cup comes the week after that. So if he were to play all three playoff events and be in position to make the Ryder Cup team, that would be four events in five weeks. At this point in his career, that’s just not going to happen.

BMW Championship, Olympia Fields (Ill.) CC, Aug. 27-30
Likelihood of playing: 5

Of the three playoff events, this is the one he’s most likely to skip, you would think.

Tour Championship, East Lake C.C., Sept. 4-7, Atlanta
Likelihood of playing: 8

If he qualifies—a big if—and if he’s healthy, he’s not going to miss this one. There are only 30 players in the field and there’s serious, serious dough on the line. Plus, it’s the first tournament he won after spinal fusion surgery, so it now has a special place in his heart.

Safeway Open, Silverado Resort and Spa, Sept. 10-13, Napa, Calif.
Likelihood of playing: 1

Virtually no chance Woods plays the first event of the 2020-’21 season, given the tournaments on either side of this one.

U.S. Open, Winged Foot CC, Sept. 17-20, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Likelihood of playing: 10

It’s a major. If he’s good, he’s there.

Ryder Cup, Whistling Straits, Sept. 25-27, Haven, Wis.
Likelihood of playing: 10

The huge caveat here is if he’s healthy enough to play, and if he’s playing well enough to make Steve Stricker’s team. If both answers are yes, he’s going to be there, and it would be his first time playing a Ryder Cup on U.S. soil since the disaster at Medinah in 2012.

Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, Corales Golf Club, Sept. 24-27, Dominican Republic
Likelihood of playing: 1

There’s a better chance of me being in the field than TW.

Sanderson Farms Championship, CC of Jackson (Miss.), Oct. 1-4
Likelihood of playing: 1

After that marathon of a late summer, he’s going to take an extended break.

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, TPC Summerlin, Oct. 8-11, Las Vegas
Likelihood of playing: 2

The only reason it’s not a 1 is because it’s the city where he won his first PGA Tour event. So if he’s feeling super-duper sentimental, there’s a chance. On a more serious note, it’s not happening.

The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, Nine Bridges, Oct. 15-18, South Korea
Likelihood of playing: 1

He hasn’t played the relatively new event yet, and we don’t see him taking a two-week sojourn in Asia.

Zozo Championship, Accordia Golf Narashino C.C., Oct. 22-25, Japan
Likelihood of playing: 8

Woods won the inaugural Zozo last year for his 82nd PGA Tour victory, tying Sam Snead for the all-time record. Obviously, he’s comfortable at this course, and it falls far enough after the Ryder Cup that he’ll have had a good deal of rest, and far enough before Augusta that he’ll re-acclimate. Plus, Woods has commercial interests in Japan. This makes sense on a number of levels.

WGC-HSBC Champions, Sheshan International G.C., Oct. 29-Nov. 1, China
Likelihood of playing: 2

Woods has played this WGC only twice, back in 2009 and 2010, finishing T-6 both times. That means he chose to skip it even in normal years in which he was healthy and willing to play more than he is now. It’s hard to imagine he’d want to return from China just 10ish days before the Masters begins. The only reason it’s not a 1 is because it’s a WGC.

Houston Open, Memorial Park G.C., Nov. 5-8, Houston
Likelihood of playing: 2

It’s the week before the Masters, and he likes to spend the week before grooving the shots he’ll need for Augusta.

The Masters, Augusta National G.C., Nov. 12-15, Augusta, Ga.
Likelihood of playing: 11

He’s the defending champion, and it’s his favorite golf course to compete on and he’s a five-time champion. If he could only play one tournament the rest of this year, it’s the Masters. As close to a lock as possible.

The RSM Classic, Sea Island Resort, Nov. 19-22, Sea Island, Ga.
Likelihood of playing: 1

After the Masters, hard to imagine he’ll play any event besides Hero.

Mayakoba Classic, Camaleon G.C., Dec. 3-6, Mexico
Likelihood of playing: 1

After the Masters, hard to imagine he’ll play any event besides Hero.

Hero World Challenge, Albany, Dec. 3-6, The Bahamas
Likelihood of playing: 9

It benefits his foundation, so he’ll be there regardless of whether he’s playing or not. This is a no-cut, relaxed event, and it has almost always served as his last tournament of the year.