Tiger sightings on the PGA Tour have become a rarity thus far this season. Woods announced on his website that he would skip the WGC-Accenture Match Play and not play again until the Honda Classic, held near his home at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
The world No. 1 was quoted on his personal website:
The Honda Classic is close to my home, and I want to support it whenever I can. We have a learning center at the Murray Middle School in Stuart, FL and this event does so much to help the community, including the efforts of the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation.
The 2013-14 PGA Season is 25 percent complete and Woods has played in one official event this year. As the defending champion in the Farmers Insurance Open, he failed to impress critics and golf fans alike.
Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open seven times in his career and he also won the 2008 U.S. Open, when it was held at Torrey Pines.
His first two rounds of 72-71 at the 2014 Famers Insurance Open left him at one-under par and inside the 36-hole cut line. A very untidy 79 in the third-round, however, included a stretch of two double-bogeys and five consecutive bogeys. He chipped in for par at No. 17 and made a long putt at the last hole to avoid posting 80 or higher.
He fell outside the top-70 and missed the 54-hole cut for the first time in his career. He finished T-80, next to last in the field.
Woods next played in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour and struggled to find fairways with his driver. He only posted one round in the 60’s in Dubai and finished T-41.
Golf fans will not see Woods play competitively again until February 27-March 2 in the Honda Classic.
In deciding to skip the WGC-Accenture Match Play, Woods said:
I had planned to take that week off and travel with Lindsey (Vonn) to Sochi, but unfortunately that won’t happen. Instead I will stay home and prepare for the Florida tournaments.
Woods has never been a fan of the Dove Mountain Golf Course, site of the WGC-Accenture Match Play since 2009. He did win the tournament in 2008, before it moved to Dove Mountain.
He was bounced in the first-round of the match play last year by Charles Howell III.
The Honda Classic struggled to draw quality fields throughout its history and has been hosted by seven different golf courses in Florida since 1972. The tournament has attracted much stronger fields since officials moved the event to PGA National in 2007.
It also didn’t hurt that Woods moved to south Florida from Orlando and PGA National is a short drive from his home on Jupiter Island.
Woods joins Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy in the field in the 2014 Honda Classic and it will host the strongest field thus far in the 2013-14 season.
Woods also announced that he would play in the WGC-Cadillac at newly renovated Trump Doral and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, both of which he will be the defending champion.
I am also excited about spending time with Arnold and defending my title at his tournament and the WGC-Cadillac. I am looking forward to seeing what they’ve done at Doral.
With the four tournaments of the FedEx Cup playoffs at the end of the season, golf does not get serious for the top players until the Florida swing and the run up to the Masters.
At 38 years of age Woods needs to save energy and his legs for the big events that come later in the schedule from the U.S. Open in June through the FedEx Cup playoffs in September.
Woods is still ranked No. 1 on the Official World Golf Rankings, but he is currently No. 207 on the FedEx Cup standings.
Woods’ performance in the Honda Classic, WGC-Cadillac and the Arnold Palmer Invitational will provide a good barometer of the status of his game heading to Augusta.