PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Where and when will Tiger Woods play next?
The only one who knows for sure is Tiger Woods and he’s holding his cards as close to the vest as ever.
After shooting 1-under 283 and finishing T-45 at the Genesis Invitational on Sunday, he basically repeated the same thing he’s said for the better part of a year and the same message he rolled out pre-tournament: he’s likely only going to be able to play the majors and sprinkle in a few select tournaments here and there.
“Here’s the deal: Like I told you guys last year, I’m not going to play any more than probably the majors and maybe a couple more. That’s it, that’s all my body will allow me to do,” Woods said. “My back the way it is, all the surgeries I had on my back, my leg the way it is, I just can’t. That’s just going to be my future. So my intent last year was to play in all four majors, I got three of the four. Hopefully this year I can get all four and maybe sprinkle in a few here and there. But that’s it for the rest of my career. I know that and I understand that. That’s just my reality.“
There was a telling exchange between CBS interviewer Amanda Renner and Tiger before they went live on the air. She suggested that if Tiger played well at the majors, he would qualify for the FedEx Cup in August. Tiger simply chuckled as if to say fat chance.
Woods is an eight-time winner at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, which has been raised to an elevated event with a $20 million and is being staged in two weeks, but that would seem to be a quick turnaround for Woods. He walked 72 holes and played 16 holes in the Wednesday pro-am and by the end of each day his limp was noticeable and seemed to be more pronounced by the day.
“It’s progress, headed in the right direction,” he said. “It certainly was a little bit more difficult than I probably let on. My team has been fantastic in getting my body recovered day to day and getting me ready to play each and every day.”
If Woods shows up to a Florida event, the best chance is the Players Championship, the Tour’s flagship event, where TPC Sawgrass is flat. It certainly would make Commissioner Jay Monahan happy to have his biggest draw in the field. Woods is a two-time winner of the event and it wouldn’t hurt to get some additional reps in before the Masters. He’d have three full weeks to recover and prep for the toughest walk of the year at Augusta National.
“That’s the hard part that I can’t simulate at home. Even if I played four days at home, it’s not the same as adrenaline, it’s not the same as the system being ramped up like that, the intensity, just the focus that it takes to play at this level,” he explained. “No matter how much — I’m very good at simulating that at home, but it’s just not the same as being out here and doing it.”
When Woods made his comeback from back surgery in 2018, he showed up at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida, and nearly won the tournament. But it would seem odd for him to pass on the Players in favor of playing Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course, and it’s doubtful Woods is considering playing two weeks in a row.
There were many encouraging signs from Woods at Riviera and as long as he can make a quick recovery, there’s every reason to believe that he will chase his sixth Green Jackets and 16th career major at Augusta National. But beyond that, Woods said, “The body says no even though the mind says yes.”
Last year, Woods surprised many when he made his first start after his car accident in February 2021. His right ankle, leg and back continue to limit how much he can play. But having Tiger in the field adds an extra layer of intrigue. Here’s hoping Woods surprises even himself and the body is willing and able to make one more start before the Masters.