Event: Farmers Insurance Open
Date: January 25-28, 2018
Location: Torrey Pines, San Diego, USA
TV: Sky Sports Golf – Thu-Fri: 8pm-12am; Sat: 7pm-12am; Sun: 6pm-11.30pm
If you needed proof that fans believe this a Tiger Woods comeback that will stick, you just need to take a look at ticket sales for the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open.
Peter Ripa, tournament director for the Torrey Pines event, told bunkered.co.uk that online sales activity is up 40% year-on-year, with the overwhelming majority of those transactions coming after Woods announced on January 4 that he’d be teeing it up.
Last year, Woods missed the cut by four strokes after rounds of 76 and 72 and, the next week at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, he withdrew after his first round due to back spasms and underwent spinal fusion surgery in April.
Woods wasn’t seen at an event again until the Hero World Challenge and, after finishing T9 with some solid play, Ripa believes that has generated much more confidence in the 14-time major champion than the previous comeback.
“The buzz has been growing and, now that he’s on site, it’s at another level,” he told bunkered.co.uk. “Tiger looks fit, he has a spring in his step along with looking very comfortable playing. There is a higher level of anticipation with his performance in The Bahamas.
“Whether it’s a golf or sports analyst or fellow players, they talk about where his game is now being able to hit shots he used to. To many, it’s a redemption story of a returning champion. People want to see the next chapter.”
Ripa also believes that the 40% year-on-year increase at Torrey Pines is small compared to what other PGA Tour events would get, purely due to the fact Woods has played there so regularly over the years.
“Our market is different than most,” he continued. “Tiger has made 15 appearances here. Many markets would see more of an increase than San Diego.”
Woods isn't the only big name in the field at Torrey Pines, though. Jon Rahm has the chance to become only the second Spaniard after Seve Ballesteros to reach world No.1 if he successfully defends his title this week.
Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson are also in the field. As is 2015 US PGA champion Jason Day, who has withdrawn from Wednesday's pro-am due to a sore back.
Woods tees off alongside Reed and Charley Hoffman at 1.40pm ET [6.40pm UK time] on Thursday and 12.30pm ET [5.30pm UK time] on Friday.