It will be Woods’ first appearance in the event since 2002 and represents another schedule shake-up for the 36-year-old, who announced in November that he would forgo the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines (a course where he's captured 7 PGA Tour titles, including a U.S. Open) to start his season at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
"I'm excited to start my PGA Tour season at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am," Woods said on his website. "AT&T is a great partner to my Foundation, and I'm looking forward to playing in this event. I haven't been to this tournament lately, but I have a lot of good memories at Pebble. It will be fun going back."
The venue does indeed hold fond memories for Woods, who, twelve years ago, overcame a seven shot deficit with seven holes to play to secure a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and later that season romped to a record-breaking 15 shot victory at the U.S. Open played at Pebble.
Despite these memories, Woods has steered clear of the tournament for a decade. The slow pace of play and the inclusion of the Poppy Hills Golf Course in the tournament rotation, a course Woods never professed to love, scared him away from the event.
But the tournament has combated these two issues since he last played there. The field has shrunk from 180 pros and amateurs to 156 in order to hasten the pace of play, and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club has replaced Poppy Hills on the tournament’s three course rotation (which includes Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill Golf Course as well).
“I've never played Monterey Peninsula and I'm looking forward to it," Woods said. “From all I've heard, it's a wonderful course and the greens are fast.”
Woods also may have been compelled to return because AT&T, the title sponsor of the Pebble Beach event, is also the title sponsor of Tiger’s own PGA Tour tournament and is a major contributor to his foundation.
While the Woods departure to Abu Dhabi for an appearance fee reported at $3 million is a bad break for the PGA Tour (which prohibits appearance fees), his return to Pebble Beach places the tour’s iconic star at one of its most iconic venues.
The schedule change is a good start for Woods in his attempt to reclaim his throne atop the golfing world. Woods has a great chance to begin his path back to the top at a place where his golfing game has previously reached its greatest heights.