Tiger Woods, who recently returned after 15 months away from competitive golf, has committed to play in the 2017 Honda Classic, a PGA TOUR event which will be played February 20-26 at PGA National Resort & Spa.
Woods made his return to competitive golf December 1-4, 2016 at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas where he finished 15th after posting a 72-hole score of 4-under 284, 14 strokes behind Hideki Matsuyama of Japan.
It was a good first step for Woods in his road back from two back operations. He led the field with 24 birdies and fired a bogey-free 7-under 65 in the second round, displaying flashes of the great play that led him to 79 PGA TOUR victories and 14 Major championships. His rhythm and tempo were good and he putted phenomenally at times. Fatigue set in on the weekend, but that didn't diminish the enthusiasm that Woods took away from his first tournament back.
"It felt great to compete again," said Woods, who turns 41 on Dec. 30. "I missed it. I made a lot of birdies, but I also made a lot of mistakes. I just need to balance it out.
"Quite frankly, it felt a little weird not to play in a cart. Conditioning was not quite there, but it is coming."
Woods hopes to play a full schedule in 2017 and his participation at The Honda will be a key part of his preparations for The Masters in April.
"It's so great to see Tiger Woods back swinging a golf club and competing again," Honda Classic Executive Director Kenneth R. Kennerly said. "He has been such a big part of the growth that we have experienced at The Honda Classic since he moved to Jupiter Island. I know that his presence at this year's tournament will generate enormous excitement amongst the fans and his fellow competitors who appreciate the challenges he has faced the past year and a half becoming healthy again."
For a sign of how much Woods presence means to the PGA TOUR and golf, take note that TV ratings for the Hero World Challenge were up almost 200 percent over the previous year. And the fourth round drew the highest ratings of any October-December event in Golf Channel history.
His impact on The Honda Classic has been equally impressionable. In 2012, his first year playing The Honda, attendance surged 45% to 161,700 and has since continued to climb to the 202,128 who attended in 2016.
Woods wanted to be out on the Tour as much as everyone in golf wanted to see him out there through the 15 months of his absence. But he took the advice of his doctors and trainers and didn't rush his return. He slowly regained his strength and muscle tone and tweaked his swing while building stamina and endurance in rounds at The Medalist Club near his Jupiter home. It was exactly 466 days between tournament appearances at the Hero's Challenge and his last tournament at the 2015 Wyndham Championship, where he tied for 10th.
"I love playing against these guys and miss being out here," Woods said. "It's fun."
Grounds tickets, Bear Trap tickets and other hospitality tickets and packages for the 2017 Honda Classic are on sale at thehondaclassic.com or by calling 1-844-8Honda8 (844-846-6328).