Tiger Woods announced Friday he will play in the next two PGA Tour events – next week’s Valspar Championship, followed by the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The commitment to Valspar is unique, as it will be his tournament debut. He has, however, previously played at Innisbrook – at the 1996 JC Penney Mixed Team event when he was paired with former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kelli Kuehne.
The commitment to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, meanwhile, was expected, given that he’s won eight times in 17 starts at Bay Hill. It will be his first start at the event since his last win in 2013.
The back-to-back commitments are a good sign in Woods’ return to competitive action after being sidelined for a year due to back surgery.
Woods has made three starts in the 2017-18 PGA Tour season, including a tie for 12th in his last start at The Honda Classic. That’s his best result on Tour since a T-10 at the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
“I feel like each time out I’ve gotten better and I’ve gotten more of a feel for playing tournament golf,” Woods said after his final round at PGA National. “The last couple days, it felt easy to play tournament golf. The warm-up felt good. I get into the flow of the round. I could find the rhythm of the rounds faster.
“The more golf I’m playing tournament-wise, the faster I’m able to click into the feel of the round.”
Woods entered the 2018 calendar year ranked 656th in the world. He has since moved up to 369th but remains well outside the necessary qualification levels needed to play events such as this week’s World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. The upcoming World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play consists of the world’s top 64 players as of March 11.
Thus, Woods is managing his schedule differently now. Last month, he played the Genesis Open at Riviera for the first time in 12 years.
Woods is not the only notable player making his tournament debut in the Valspar Championship. Rory McIlroy announced in December that he will also play the event for the first time.