- By Staff reports
Tiger Woods will play in next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, a tournament source told The Post. It marks the first time in four years the Jupiter Island resident has played in his home-county event and will add to the excitement at the tournament, which has set attendance records in the years Woods has been away.
Woods made the announcement Friday afternoon from Los Angeles, where he is competing in the PGA Tour’s Genesis Open. Honda Classic events begin with Monday’s Pro-Am on the Champion Course, and the tournament will be competed Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 22-25.
Woods’ famously balky back was always the concern when considering whether he would play the Honda. Woods is playing this weekend at Riviera Country Club, the famed Los Angeles venue he considers his hometown course because of the many times he played there while growing up in Southern California.
Playing at Riviera and then here at PGA National will require him to play in consecutive weeks, something many have thought was unlikely this early in his latest attempt to recover from the multiple back surgeries he has endured the past few years.
Woods was asked this week what it would take for him to play in the Honda.
“Just not to feel sore,” he responded, “and to feel like I can play all-out again with three days off. To be able to go at it full-bore again. That’s something I’ve been trying to do at home (in Jupiter), trying to simulate rounds where I go full-bore at it, but it’s never the same as in a tournament.
“I try to get myself as fired-up as possible, to hit shots as hard as I would in a tournament or shape shots and do all the weird things I like to do, but it’s just not the same. It would be a great sign if I do (play the Honda Classic), but I think it would be a smart sign if I didn’t play. How about that? Did I dance that dance pretty good?”
Woods shot an opening-round 1-over-par 72 on Thursday.
His only other starts this season came at the Hero World Challenge, a limited-field event where he finished tied for ninth with a score of 8 under par in early December, and at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished tied for 23rd place with a score of 3 under par on Jan. 28 at Torrey Pines in San Diego — another of his favorite courses.
Woods, a winner of 14 majors, has played the Honda Classic three times — 2012, 2013 and 2014, when he withdrew in the final round with back pain.
The Honda Classic has proven to be Rory-proof, Phil-proof, PGA Tour schedule-proof and yes, even, Tiger-proof, when it comes to attendance.
Last year — despite no Tiger Woods and a change to the PGA Tour schedule that cut Doral as a partner event in South Florida and replaced it with an event in Mexico City — 203,815 spectators attended over a seven-day period. That total set a record for the Honda since moving to PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens in 2007. The previous record was set in 2016.
Honda Classic Executive Director Kenneth R. Kennerly, speaking to The Post about the possibility of Woods playing in his event this year, noted the added excitement Woods brings to any event he plays in, but said the tournament has grown into an event that Palm Beach County residents look forward to every year.
“We have seen enormous growth over the years. We continue to break records. Having Rickie Fowler as a defending champion is now great for us,” Kennerly said. “We get tremendous support from the PGA players and American Honda, our two local founding partners Tire Kingdom and United Technologies, other local sponsors, volunteers and our great fan base that continues to support the tournament each and every year. The Honda Classic has become very successful in Palm Beach County.”