Tiger Woods is set to play in a PGA Tour event Thursday for the first time since the 2022 Open Championship in July when The Genesis Invitational begins at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
“I’m ready to play an ACTUAL PGA Tour event next week @thegenesisinv,” Woods tweeted Friday, the deadline to enter the tournament he hosts.
In a news conference Tuesday, Woods said, “The plan was to play. Whether or not this body would listen to me or not was the main question. I can hit golf balls and do all that stuff, it’s a matter of whether I have endurance in my leg. And we’ve been pushing it pretty good and able to recover each and every day, which is great.”
Woods said his right ankle has “gotten so much better the last couple months.”
“I would not have put myself out here if I didn’t think I could beat these guys and win the event,” Woods said.
Woods has played in three PGA Tour events — all majors — since suffering multiple fractures to his right leg and ankle when the SUV he was driving rolled over on a downhill slope of northbound Hawthorne Boulevard in Rancho Palos Verdes on Feb. 23, 2021, two days after the conclusion of that year’s Genesis Invitational.
In 2022, Woods finished 47th in the Masters, was forced to withdraw from the PGA Championship after three rounds and missed the cut at the Open Championship.
Woods played with his 13-year-old son Charlie in the father-and-son PNC Championship in December. The duo tied for eighth at 20-under 124 in the 36-hole scramble event, six strokes behind winners Vijay and Qass Singh.
Carts were allowed in the event. They are not allowed in PGA Tour events.
“I was able to play out of the cart and hit shots and do whatever I wanted, but I just didn’t have the endurance in my ankle, so we’ve been working on that,” Woods said. “I can still hit shots, but it’s the walking endurance that’s hard.
“That’s something that we’ve had to work on, walking distances on the beach, just basically stress it out but also be able to recover by the next day and see how it is inflammation-wise and then keep practicing. I may have overdone it a couple times here or there, but here I am.”
Woods is set to tee off at 12:04 p.m., playing in a threesome with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas. When Woods hits his opening tee shot, it will take place 844 days since his last competitive round in a non-major, the 2020 Zozo Championship.
Woods has won 82 times on the PGA Tour, tying Sam Snead for the most in history. Woods has not won a tournament since the 2019 Zozo Championship. His last top 10 finish on the PGA Tour was tying for ninth in the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open.
This will be the 15th time Woods has played in what is now The Genesis Invitational. The 14 starts are his most in a PGA Tour event without a victory. The closest he came to winning was in 1998 when he lost in a playoff to Billy Mayfair. The next year he was among three golfers tied for second, two strokes behind Ernie Ells.
Oddsmakers have made Woods a 125-1 shot at winning the tournament and 7-5 to make the cut. The field will be reduced to the low 65 plus ties following the conclusion of the second round.
Spaniard Jon Rahm is the favorite at 15-2 while McIlroy is the second choice at 9-1.
The tournament is among the 17 designated events on the PGA Tour, a new classification intended to create more events where all of the top players are entered. Players who finished in the top 20 of the 2022 Player Impact Program are required to play in the designated events they are eligible to play in, although they are eligible to skip one.
As a designated event, the purse has been raised to $20 million, up from $12 million last year. The winner will receive $3.6 million, up from $2.16 million last year.
The tournament has drawn its strongest field ever, with 23 of the top 25 players in the Official World Golf Ranking and 39 of the top 50, topped by Scottie Scheffler, who regained the No. 1 spot from McIlroy Sunday by winning the WM Phoenix Open.
McIlroy is ranked second and Rahm third.
The Player Impact Program began in 2021 to reward players for boosting engagement and publicity of the PGA Tour.
The top 20 is based on number of unique news articles that include the player’s name, time the player’s sponsor logos appear on screen during Saturday and Sunday telecasts, a player’s general awareness score among the general public and a social media score that considers a player’s reach, conversation and engagement metrics.
The tournament will be televised on Golf Channel from 1-5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-noon Saturday and Sunday and on CBS from noon-4 p.m. Saturday and noon-3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Additional coverage will be streamed on the ESPN+ service from 6:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sunday.