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After seven months out injured, Tiger Woods returns to action at this week’s Hero World Challenge – and, if he gets his way, we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of him in 2024.
Woods, sidelined since The Masters following subtalar fusion surgery, is targeting a “best scenario” of playing once a month next year.
Optimistic? Maybe. Exciting? Absolutely.
A succession of injuries, not to mention a near-fatal car crash, have restricted the 15-time major champion to just 64 PGA Tour appearances over the last decade. For context, Jon Rahm has made 149 starts and he only turned pro midway through 2016.
Since the start of the 2019/20 PGA Tour season, Woods has been seen only 15 times.
To suddenly target one tournament per month in 2024 – he has managed only 12 starts in a single season four times in the past decade – seems extraordinarily ambitious.
But this is Tiger Woods. Write him off at your peril.
So, in the event that we are to take him at his word, what might his 2024 schedule look like?
We’ve taken a look…
Ineligible for the opening event of 2024, The Sentry, Woods’ first start could come at the Sony Open – but that’s an event he has never played in his career. That leaves the American Express, another event he has traditionally skipped, or the Farmers Insurance Open (Jan 24-27) at Torrey Pines, which he has won seven times. That seems the obvious contender but don’t dismiss the prospect of him starting his year on the DP World Tour. Woods has played in the Dubai Desert Classic (Jan 18-21) eight times, most recently in 2017. It also helps that he is tight with the CEO of title sponsor Hero, Pawal Munjal.
If he’s going to play anywhere in February, it’s going to be the Genesis Invitational (Feb 15-18) at Riviera. Woods is the host of the tournament and has a long history with it. It was there, indeed, that he made his PGA Tour start back in 1992. He’s never won it, though…
A couple of contenders here. There’s the Arnold Palmer Invitational (Mar 7-10) is an event Woods has won eight times. However, he hasn’t featured at Bay Hill since the 2016/17 season. Far more likely is that he pegs it up the following week at The Players Championship (Mar 14-17). He has a bit of a ‘spotty’ record at TPC Sawgrass. Outside of his two wins, he has posted only three other top-10 finishes from 19 starts. But it’s the PGA Tour’s flagship event and, with Woods’ taking on a more senior role on the circuit, it’s hard to imagine him skipping it.
The Masters (Apr 11-14). Next!
The US PGA Championship (May 16-19) visiting Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky, scene of Woods’ playoff victory over Bob May in 2000. If he’s fit enough, he’s obviously going to play there.
Major season continues with the US Open (Jun 13-16) taking place at Pinehurst. Woods has only ever won once in North Carolina but that was at Quail Hollow in the 2007 Wells Fargo Championship. He does have some history with Pinehurst, however. He won the Big I Junior Classic on its No.7 Course in 1992. Alas, the US Open will be played over the acclaimed No.2.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 28, 2023
The Open at Royal Troon (Jul 18-21) concludes major championship season. Woods hasn’t won the Claret Jug since 2006. On his only two previous visits to this part of Ayrshire, he finished T24 in 1997 and T9 in 2004.
With the majors over, this is where things get a little more interesting and harder to predict. Ever the competitor, Woods will be targeting the Tour Championship at East Lake (Aug 29-Sept 1). However, he’ll need to be inside the top-30 on the FedEx Cup standings by that point. Playing such a limited schedule, that’s going to be a tall task and will likely require him winning for a record-breaking 83rd time on the PGA Tour. Plus, to advance to the final 30, he’ll likely to have to play the earlier two Playoff events. That leaves only the Wyndham Championship – the final event of the regular season – or the Olympics (Aug 1-4). He’ll do well to qualify for the latter. The Wyndham (Aug 8-11), which he has played only once before, way back in 2015, seems the most likely of a bunch of unlikely candidates.
We don’t yet know what the PGA Tour’s 2024 Fall Series will look like but, assuming it mirrors this year, there will be only one event in September: the Fortinet Championship. It’s a tournament Woods has never played and it’s hard to imagine him starting now. The DP World Tour maybe? The most likely candidates are either the Irish Open or BMW PGA Championship but, again, he has bever pegged it up in either. So, what does he have his eyes on? In all probability, it has to be the Presidents Cup, taking place at Royal Montreal Golf Club (Sept 24-29). Woods has played in the event nine times, most recently as winning playing-captain in 2019. He has 27.5 points from a possible 43. Should he make the team – or get a pick from skipper Jim Furyk – he’ll go into the week knowing that a perfect 5-0-0 record would see him equal Phil Mickelson’s record points haul in the event. But let’s not get too carried away…
Another pretty low-key month on the PGA Tour, where the ZOZO Championship (date TBC) represents Woods’ most likely start. It’s an event he has played in twice before and was the scene of his record-equalling 82nd PGA Tour victory in 2019. On the DP World Tour, he could feature in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – massively unlikely, even though it is co-staged by his ‘favourite golf course on the planet’ St Andrews. Even less likely? The Open de France or Andalucia Masters.
Providing the Hero World Challenge keeps its date for next year, you can virtually guarantee that’s where the former world No.1 will be playing in November 2024.
Easy. The PNC Championship alongside son Charlie. They’ll be playing in it for the fourth time this year. Will they be going back as defending champions in 2024, or still seeking that elusive first win? Either way, it’s a title Tiger wants on his resumé. Badly.
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