Tiger Woods has confirmed the first two events he will be playing in this year, as his early season path towards a return to the US Masters is mapped out.
Woods made his impressive return to competitive golf in December in the Bahamas Hero World Challenge—a tournament where he finished ninth of 18. This ended a 10-month stint of being on the sidelines.
His performance cast aside doubts about his long-term return to the game. The 14-time major winner subsequently revealed plans to play an extensive—if not full—schedule in 2018 and steadily ease his body back into the demands of tournament golf.
Back in the game
The former world number one has revealed what the first two tournaments of that schedule will be: the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course starting on January 25 and the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club from February 12. The gap gives Woods a full two-week break between tournaments to ensure he is not placing too much stress on his body.
Woods has fond memories of Torrey Pines, having won the Farmers Insurance Open there seven times. The most recent of these victories was back in 2013, before he suffered injury and back problems. Woods also won the U.S. Open at the venue in 2008—the last time he lifted a major title. He missed the cut in the Farmers Insurance last year before sitting out of the competition for much of the rest of the year.
When Woods tees it up in the Genesis Open in February, he will be returning to the Riviera course where he made his PGA TOUR debut as a young 16-year-old. He hasn’t played in the tournament for 12 years, but it clearly fits in well with his planned schedule for this year.
“I haven’t played at Riviera in a tournament in a very long time,” Woods wrote on his website. “To be able to play in an event that I used to come to as an amateur, as a junior and now as the tournament host, that is on one of the most historic sites in all of golf, it’s a dream come true.”
A Major comeback
It is the majors that Woods appears to be ready to center his season around. Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule has delighted fans worldwide—they have waited what feels like an eternity to see the American bid for a 15th major.
If Woods does line up at Augusta for the Masters, it will be only his second appearance at the year’s first major since 2013. His only result at the event in the last four years was a 17th place finish in 2015.
But Woods hasn’t played in a major since then, missing the last 11. He has not played in the Masters for two years and missed the last three U.S. Opens, Open Championships and PGA Championships.
Woods said in December: “We’re going to figure out what’s the best way for me to build my schedule for the major championships.
“I don’t know what golf courses I’ll be playing and what’s the best way to go about it. We’ll sit down with the whole team and we’ll figure it out: where I’m going to start, how much I’m going to play, rest periods, training cycles, the whole nine yards,” he explained.
See also: Predictions for Professional Golf in 2018