Time for our weekly round of speculation on Tiger Woods and the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. It’s a match that, to me at least, looks less likely to happen now that the early part of his schedule is beginning to come together.
No official word from either side just yet but by Jan. 4 of last year Tiger had already committed to play the PGA Tour event in his home county. He ended up withdrawing because of a round of back spasms that ruined his 2017 season before it ever really got started, but at least the publicly-stated intention was there.
Right now it’s a full week deeper into the 2018 calendar year and Tiger has only committed to play the Farmers Insurance Open near San Diego Jan. 25-28 and the Genesis Open in Los Angeles Feb. 15-18, with two weeks off in between.
There’s a potential problem there since the Feb. 22-25 Honda immediately follows the Genesis. That would require 72-hole tournament play on consecutive weeks, a real stretch for a 42-year-old athlete still testing his physical limits.
It also would mean a cross-country flight from California to South Florida between the events. Tiger was going to give that a try last year, scheduling the Genesis and the Honda back-to-back, but was forced to withdraw from both and eventually had spinal fusion surgery in April, 2017.
Tiger hasn’t had an official PGA Tour start since the 2017 Farmers, where he missed the cut with rounds of 76 and 72. He played well and looked strong at the unofficial Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
It’s a minute-to-minute mystery, both for the Honda and for the 14-time major champion. He wrote in a Dec. 29 blog on his personal website, “I would love to play a full schedule in 2018. What that entails, including back-to-back events, I don’t know. I just have to continue to work on my body and game and see where I pan out.”
Nothing to do but wait. If Tiger plows through the San Diego event without any problems, he might just feel spunky enough to flesh out his schedule more with a return to PGA National. If not, he’ll need to relook everything, again.
The Honda will have another strong field either way, with Rickie Fowler as the defending champion.
A Tiger commitment sure would make a difference, however, for fans who are on the fence about buying a weekly pass in advance.
The only certainty is that he’ll want to be sharp for the Masters, where he hasn’t played since a tie for 17th in 2015.