Tiger Woods is back: Five things to know about his 2017 return to the PGA Tour
Woods is playing on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2015
Tiger Woods' 2017 season is about to kick into high gear. Woods will play four times over the next five weeks as he tees it up at the Farmers Insurance Open beginning on Thursday. He will be in Dubai the week after that and then at the Genesis Open and Honda Classic in February. We are about to see a lot of Tiger Woods.
That's a great thing, too, because we haven't seen very much of him over the last few years. Woods hasn't played an official PGA Tour event since the Wyndham Championship at the end of 2015. With that in mind, here are five things you need to know about Woods' return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines this week.
1. Tiger owns Torrey: Woods has eight career wins at this course, including one at the U.S Open. Incredibly, he has only played here 16 times total, and four of the eight non-wins were top-five finishes. Woods of course is the king of a handful of courses across the United States but maybe none more so than this one. His $8.2 million earned at Torrey Pines alone would rank No. 196 on the all-time PGA Tour money list.
Tiger at Torrey Pines in his career.— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) January 23, 2017
🏆 (U.S. Open)
WD (Glutes not firing)
Money earned: Over $8M
2. He has not played a real event in 522 days: It will have been 17 months since Woods teed it up at the 2015 Wyndham Championship when he gets hits his first shot on Thursday. That's forever in golf years. Woods made a pit stop in the Bahamas in December, but that is the only time we have seen him publicly play golf. Woods' injury history is well-documented and unfortunate. It's unfortunate because as fans we have been robbed of what should have been the sunset years on one of the great careers in sports history. Hopefully that starts this week in San Diego.
3. Last time Woods was here, his glutes did not fire: Woods, who was trying to play his first full season since back surgery at the beginning of 2014, had to withdraw from this tournament two years ago because his gluteal muscles (i.e. butt) were "de-activated." Here is the exact quote from that event.
"It's frustrating that it started shutting down like that," said Woods. "I was ready to go. I had a good warm-up session the first time around. Then we stood out here and I got cold, and everything started de-activating again. And it's frustrating that I just can't stay activated. That's just kind of the way it is. It's just my glutes are shutting off. Then they don't activate and then, hence, it goes into my lower back. So, I tried to activate my glutes as best I could, in between, but it just they never stayed activated."
Woods went on to finish top 20 at the Masters that year, but he had two more surgeries later in 2015, beginning with the second microdiscectomy surgery of his career (the other came in the spring of 2014). The next surgery, that fall, was a more minor follow-up procedure. Those surgeries on your back can (and do) take a toll, but Woods seems ready for one final ride.
4. He is expected to compete this week: Maybe it's the fact that it's Torrey Pines. Maybe it was the 24 birdies he made at the Hero World Challenge. Maybe it's just the fact that he's Tiger freaking Woods. But I expect Big Cat to make the cut and at least be competitive on the weekend. Win? No. But no golfer in the world is wiser than Woods at this course. That counts for something. As long as his back holds, he's going to have a really good week.
5. His peers are excited: There are not any other golfers in the world (maybe ever) that inspire that kind of chatter and awe amongst their peers that Woods does. Rory McIlroy talked about that a few weeks ago. Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia chatted about that recently.
"He's 41. He's seen what Phil (Mickelson), myself and Darren Clarke have done," said Ernie Els recently. "We've won majors in our 40s. He's thinking if we can do it, he can definitely win a couple. I think he has a chance of doing that. He brings an immense spotlight to the game wherever he goes. He's obviously very, very good for the game. The better he plays, the better golf will be. "
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