Former world number one Tiger Woods announced Thursday he will play his first US PGA Tour event of 2018 in three weeks at Torrey Pines and another three weeks later at Riviera.
Woods, a 14-time major champion making his latest comeback from nagging back injuries, will have his 2018 debut from January 25-28 in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he has won seven PGA event titles and the 2008 US Open, his most recent major triumph.
Woods also said he will compete at the Genesis Open at Riviera in Los Angeles, his first appearance there since 2006. Woods will serve as host of the event, which benefits his charity foundation.
“Excited to start my season off in SoCal at @FarmersInsOpen and @genesisopen,” Woods said in a Twitter posting.
The February 15-18 event is on the same Riviera layout where Woods played his first PGA event in 1992 as an amateur on a sponsor’s exemption.
“I’m very excited to be back at Riviera,” Woods said. “I haven’t played at Riviera in a tournament in a very long time. To be able to play in an event that I used to come to as an amateur, as a junior and now as the tournament host, that is on one of the most historic sites in all of golf, it’s a dream come true.”
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) January 4, 2018
Woods, whose 79 US PGA titles are three shy of Sam Snead’s all-time record, won PGA crowns at Torrey Pines in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2013 and is the event’s all-time leading money winner with $6,856,015.
“Tiger shares a rich history with Torrey Pines,” said tournament director Peter Ripa. “We are excited to have him join our field once again.
“His legacy already cemented, we look forward to, together with our fans, watching as Tiger writes the latest chapter of his storied career.”
Others committed to playing at Torrey Pines include Spain’s Jon Rahm, Britain’s Justin Rose and Americans Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson.
Woods, a 14-time major champion, missed the entire 2015-16 season with back issues and a comeback attempt was cut short by pain last February, leading to another back procedure last April.
Woods was sidelined nearly 10 months until last month’s Hero World Challenge charity event in the Bahamas, where he shared ninth in a field of 18 and said he was finally playing without pain.
Provided by AFP Sport
Tiger Woods still harbours ambitions of reminding his kids and a new generation of rivals that he is more than “the YouTube golfer” – despite revealing the depth of his injury problems.
Woods has started just three events since August 2015 and withdrew from his most recent tournament in February in Dubai after an opening 77.
The 14-time major winner subsequently underwent spinal fusion surgery in April, his fourth back operation in the space of three years, but will return to action in this week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 28, 2017
“This surgery was about quality of life because I didn’t really have much,” Woods told a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the 10th comeback after an absence of 10 weeks or more in his career.
“I’ve been in bed for about two years and haven’t been able to do much. The neatest thing for me is to be able to get out of bed and I can grab a club and not use it as a crutch.
“I was talking to my surgeon (about) how long will this fused back hold up, but he said you’ll be fine for the rest of your life. It’s bone and bone, you’re fine.
“It’s still trying to sink in that I can start doing things like that, being more athletic. There’s still some apprehension going forward, no doubt. This week is a big step for me.”
Former world number one Woods is currently ranked 1,199th and is a 40/1 outsider in the 18-man field, which features several players who grew up as some of his biggest fans.
The likes of US PGA champion Justin Thomas, who will partner Woods in Thursday’s first round, only turned professional in 2013, the year of Woods’ last tournament win.
“In an ideal world, I would like to have them feel what some of my past guys had to go against all those years,” added Woods. “I’d like them to feel that same way.”
Woods also wants his children Charlie and Sam to see first-hand how good he is, especially after Sam’s comment earlier this year when being introduced to Lionel Messi.
Woods added: “I said ‘ain’t it neat to meet a living legend’ and she said ‘yeah we live with one’.
“I never thought my kids understood what I’d been able to do in the game of golf because they always think I’m the YouTube golfer.
“They’ve never seen me in action. Charlie was there at Akron when I won last time, but he doesn’t really remember it.
A handful of Tiger Woods’ full swings at regular speed from this week in The Bahamas. pic.twitter.com/xQwlM7Bi31
— Charlie Kane (@PGATOURKane) November 29, 2017
“I want them to see what I’ve been able to do my entire career. I don’t know how long I’m going to be playing.
“I want them to come to a few events, feel it, understand it a bit more, kind of what Jack (Nicklaus) did with his kids, have Jackie (his son) carry the bag at Augusta.”
Tiger Woods had five drugs, including the opioid painkiller hydrocodone, in his system when he was arrested in May on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to a toxicology report released Monday.
A urine test revealed four other medications along with hydrocodone — which is sold under the brand name Vicodin.
Also present were the powerful painkiller hydromorphone, anxiety drug alprazolam (also known as Xanax), sleep drug zolpidem (also known as Ambien) and THC, which is a chemical component of marijuana.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office made the results public on Monday.
The 41-year-old Woods was arrested early in the morning May 29 in Jupiter, Florida. Police found him asleep in his Mercedes-Benz by the side of the road near his home.
He later said in a statement that his condition was the result of a reaction to mixing several prescription drugs.
Woods pleaded guilty to reckless driving and agreed to enter a diversion program that will allow the 14-time major championship winning golfer to clear his record if he completes the program.
In June he completed what he termed an intensive treatment program to help him manage medications he was using to combat back pain and insomnia.
At the time of his arrest Woods was unable to tell officers where he was, stumbling through a field sobriety test. Woods told officers he was taking Vicodin and Xanax to deal with pain from April back surgery.
Woods has 79 career PGA Tour victories but isn’t currently playing after his latest back surgery — his fourth overall.
He won 14 majors, but the last one was in 2008 when he won the US Open at Torrey Pines by outlasting Rocco Mediate in a memorable 19-hole playoff.