Tiger Woods will open his 2014-15 season at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, he announced Friday morning on his web site.
It will mark his first time playing the event since 2001. The tournament begins Jan. 29. Woods also announced that he will play the Farmers Insurance Open the week after Phoenix.
“It will be great to return to Phoenix,” he said on his site. “The crowds are amazing and always enthusiastic, and the 16th hole is pretty unique in golf. Torrey is a very important place to me. My pop took me there when I was younger, and I have a lot of special memories of watching the Tour play there when I was growing up.”
Woods has played the Waste Management Phoenix Open three times.
In 1997 less than a year after turning pro, he aced the par-3 16th hole during the third round to set off a raucous celebration.
Two years later, he enlisted the help of the gallery to move a boulder that was in the way of his ball.
His last appearance was in 2001, when he tied for fifth.
The former world No. 1 also hasn’t played an official PGA Tour event since missing the cut at the PGA Championship last August. After failing to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, Woods took nearly four months off to rest his ailing back.
He returned to competitive play in December at his Hero World Challenge with a new coach, Chris Como, and a new swing after parting ways with previous coach Sean Foley in August. But Woods struggled with his short game and tied for last in the 18-man field.
Still, Woods was in good spirits and happy to be healthy, and some of his fellow competitors are ready for his return.
Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee said he spoke with FedExCup leader Robert Streb as well as Tim Clark this week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and “both of them said they couldn’t wait for Tiger Woods to get back to playing the type of golf that he could play, great golf.”
Added Chamblee: “Golf needs him, golf is invigorated by him. I think everybody in golf wants to see Tiger Woods come back and win more major championships. I think it would be wonderful for the game and wonderful to see.”
In 2014, a bad back plagued him throughout the year. He made just seven starts on Tour last season and withdrew or missed the cut in four of them.
Woods underwent back surgery at the end of March, returned too soon and continued to struggle.
His best result on the year was a tie for 25th at the no-cut World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and he failed to qualify for the Playoffs for the second time in three years.
The final round of this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open will create a Super Sunday for sports fans in the area, as the Super Bowl will be held in nearby Glendale, Arizona, later that day.
The tournament set a Tour attendance record last year, drawing 563,008 fans, surpassing the previous mark set in 2008 when the Super Bowl was last played the same week at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“It would be monumental. It would be phenomenal,” said Notah Begay, Tiger’s former college teammate at Stanford, when reports surfaced earlier this week that Woods would play Phoenix. “It would add a tremendous amount of hype and energy into an already overcharged event.”
Although Woods has a limited amount of experience at TPC Scottsdale, the following week’s event at Torrey Pines is a venue in which he has great success, having won seven Farmers Insurance Opens, as well as the 2008 U.S. Open.
The two weeks in Phoenix and San Diego will be important for Woods after the lengthy layoff.
“He needs to get off to a good start, especially like at San Diego and these tournaments coming up that he usually wins when he was normal,” said NBC analyst Johnny Miller.