Tiger Woods: The Honda Classic and Beyond

Kevin CaseyContributor IFebruary 28, 2012

MARANA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Tiger Woods hits a shot on the second hole during the first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on February 22, 2012 in Marana, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

For years Tiger Woods had heard the pundits criticize his lack of tournament play. And for years, Woods had refused to cave, hanging onto an increasingly sparse schedule.

The man who competed in 20 events per season at the turn of the century had dwindled to 16 by 2007. Even when poor play plagued him the past two years, Woods held steadfast, refusing to add any events.

But Woods has seemingly had a change of heart, first adding the Frys.com Open last October, then the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last month, and now the Honda Classic this week.

A man who had added just one PGA Tour event to his schedule since 2009 (The Barclays, and only because it became a playoff event) has now added three in five months. It seems that a revamped Woods is seeing a revamped schedule, especially with the Honda's addition.

Woods will break a long drought this week, playing the Honda for the first time in 19 years and the first time as a professional.

It will bring quite an intriguing week.

The PGA National will be a big test for Woods. In Woods' third PGA Tour event (and fourth total event) of the season, we will really see the state of his game. This isn’t a course that suits him, with the danger of water on a number of tee shots, accuracy is at a premium here, something

Woods has rarely been praised for on his driving.

Along with this, the course's winds may give Woods trouble, as his game has proven less than conducive to it in the recent past.

The 36-year-old has struck the ball well this season, but with water and winds there to eat up any loose shots, will his swing continue to work? Can it hold up for four straight days, something it has failed to do as of yet this season? Will he fix his putting woes soon or is he doomed to follow in the footsteps of men like Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson who saw their flatsticks deteriorate with old age?

It will be interesting to see at the very least, and this tournament may give a great look at where Woods is headed. Golf is a fickle sport, making it tough to take too much from one event, but the Honda may show the direction of Woods' golf game as we climax towards the Masters.

If he can play well at an unfamiliar course, his game may just be heating up in time for Augusta. If not, he still has two more events to improve before the season's first major, yet any struggles it would be another sign that his game is stagnating rather than improving.

Tiger Woods and PGA National should be an interesting mix, one that will be fun to watch.

This event will be Woods' biggest test yet in this young season, and if he contends or even wins here, he will be a very dangerous man when the Masters rolls around.