For the very first time since 2001, Tiger Woods, a 14-time major winner in the PGA, has locked in to start 2015 by participating in the Phoenix Open. The tournament will take place on the same weekend as the Super Bowl XLIX, from Jan. 29-Feb. 1. His return to his former glory, after some needed rest, has everyone on pins and needles for the start of the season.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open is scheduled to take place at TPC Scottsdale, newly renovated by the original designer, Tom Weiskopf. On the last day of the Phoenix Open, the Super Bowl will simultaneously take place at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Woods is rumored to have booked a stay at the Four Seasons, as well as reserved a courtesy car for the event. Although the PGA pro has stated in his blog his excitement for returning to Phoenix, his spot in the open is still unofficial. Unless he gives an announcement prior to Jan. 23, he will more than likely make his debut at his regularly scheduled role in the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.
In the past, Woods has made three seasonal debuts in Phoenix, one in 1997 where he made a hole-in-one on the 16th hole, he placed third in 1999, and fifth in 2001. In the 1999 open, some very dedicated fans came to his aid to remove a boulder from his path. Now, after a 14-year absence, the PGA champ may come to Phoenix due to a conflict between himself and the sponsors for European tours. Woods has raked in massive earnings from them in the past, but the sponsors refuse to adhere to his $3 million fee.
With his open schedule, Woods could easily lock his spot for the Phoenix Open. Albeit, he has stronger feelings for Torrey Pines, as evidenced by what he wrote on his blog. He wrote how he has fond memories of watching the tours there with his father throughout his childhood.
Woods returns this year, after suffering through a bad back in 2014, just as strong as before. In December, he played as part of the Hero World Challenge, where he landed himself in a tie for last place. His ending score was not truly impressive, but spectators and professionals alike noticed his swing has regained the power it once had. Paul McGinley spoke with other players that have competed against Woods recently, and they all agree.
Since 2007, Woods has not been apart of the top 20 golfers’ driving distance list, but if the word of McGinley and the others pros are accurate, that could very easily change this 2015 season. Arnold Palmer, as he wrote in his annual Golf Channel column, thinks that Woods’ decision to let his body slowly recuperate will be advantageous for the PGA superstar. Palmer added that “[Woods has] shown real discipline in easing himself back into competitive form.”
Hopefully, Woods will officially announce his lock for the Phoenix Open, because many competitors and spectators will be in for a great opening for the new PGA season. The 2015 tours will see great new swings, drives, putts, and most of all, the 14-time winner at his best.
By Matthew Austin Bowers
Photo by Craig O’Neal – Flickr License