This Thursday will mark the third time that Tiger Woods has made a return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge. The exclusive, 20-man field, no cut line and the fact that the tournament benefits his foundation are all appealing reasons for Tiger to tee it up again.
Of course, being the tournament host is a nice perk when you want a last-minute entry/”exemption” in, if you could even call it that.
“I talked to the committee, and the committee of one was able to give me a spot.” – tiger on his late entry to the hero pic.twitter.com/muWmPwE2Xd
Nice flex there, El Tigre. But in addition to addressing a lot of the macro issues in the game of golf, Tiger seemed to have a renewed optimism about how much he could actually play going forward. We love to hear that.
Thanks to a lengthy rehab from ankle surgery, the 15-time major champion is pain-free at least in that area.
Tiger: "I don't have any of the pain I had at Augusta or [before] that in my ankle."
Tiger said that his golf swing still takes a toll in other areas of his body. Nevertheless, we’re looking at a guy who’s no longer concerned about walking the course. He’s confident he has the stamina to make it through 72 holes of tournament play.
…Don’t get it twisted, though. Tiger isn’t some ceremonial golfer. He still “absolutely” believes he can beat the best players on the planet when he has his A-game.
Tiger: "I love competing. I love playing. I miss being out here with the guys. … But what drives me is that I love to compete. There will come a point in time when I won't be able to win again. When that day comes, I'll walk away." Says he still thinks he can win again.
This man’s body has been through hell and back. He turns 48 in late December. Were it anyone else, you could laugh that kind of talk off as false bravado. Tiger Woods ain’t anyone else. The textbook definition of “build different.”
Just how good is Tiger feeling? While he was careful to keep expectations in check and was “curious” to see how he’d respond at the Hero World Challenge since he hasn’t put pencil to paper on a scorecard in a minute, he didn’t shy away from his best-case scenario: One tournament per month this coming year.
After playing nine events in 2020, Tiger has made just five starts since. He stands to more than double that total in 2024 alone if all goes according to plan.
Tiger alluded to how the PGA Tour schedule sets up nicely in the sense that there’s a high-profile event each month. Then of course there are tournaments and courses that suit Tiger’s eye more than others, so I think we can make reasonable inferences as to where he might be in action if he can, in fact, play one event per month in 2024.
Potential 2024 Tiger Woods Schedule
Going to take my best shot at this. I’m only going to go off what’s currently listed on the PGA Tour’s current 2024 schedule. That only runs through the beginning of September when the FedEx Cup playoffs conclude.
January: Farmers Insurance Open — San Diego’s Torrey Pines was the site of Tiger’s legendary, on-one-leg triumph at the 2008 U.S. Open. It’s about 100 miles from where Tiger was born. Pretty close to a lock that this is where we’ll next see Tiger following the Hero World Challenge
February: Genesis Invitational — The only tournament Tiger called out regarding his schedule was this one at Riviera. I’d selfishly love to see him at TPC Scottsdale the week before to amp up that raucous crowd on the par-3 16th hole. Seems like the Genesis is the far more likely scenario. It served as one of Tiger’s two starts in ’23.
March: The PLAYERS Championship — Given how reflective Tiger was on the history of golf in Tuesday’s presser, I could see him going for the Arnold Palmer Invitational the week before instead. However, since he still has an exemption into the PLAYERS thanks to that 2019 Masters victory, I imagine Tiger will take on the greater challenge while he still can.
April: The Masters Tournament — No-brainer here. Pretty wild to think that I was just hoping he’d be able to come back by this date, never mind playing a tournament a month leading up to his annual stroll down Magnolia Lane. Needless to say, we will all be eagerly anticipating this one.
May: PGA Championship — From a major he’s won five times to one he’s claimed on four occasions, safe to say Tiger will be on the prowl this year at Bethpage. The New York crowds are going to go absolutely bonkers and I’m here for all of it.
June: U.S. Open — It’s rather straightforward for the most part from here on in. However, if Tiger were to miss a major, I’d think it’d be this one. The U.S. Open is a grueling test of golf with brutal conditions and awful, super-thick rough that could really take its toll. There’s also the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial Tournament in June, so watch for Tiger to possibly return to Muirfield Village, where he’s a five-time champion.
July: The Open Championship — No question Tiger is going across the pond to Royal Troon. Henrik Stenson had an epic duel with Phil Mickelson and prevailed with the Claret Jug in 2016 by posting 20 under par over 72 holes. It’ll be fascinating to see if Troon will yield that type of birdie barrage this time around.
August: Wyndham Championship — There’s no alternative since the FedEx Cup playoffs dominate August. As far as I’m aware, Tiger only played here in 2015, finishing tied for 10th.
OK that’s a wrap. TIGER IS BACK IN TWO DAYS, BAY-BEEEE LET’S GOOOO!