Jan
9
2015
Tiger Woods to kick off 2015 at Phoenix Open
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods
Tiger celebrates his hole-in-one on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale in 1997

Tiger celebrates his hole-in-one on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale in 1997

Well, I never thought I’d see the day where Tiger Woods would tee it up at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. After all, he hasn’t played in the event since 2001 (not to mention it’s absolute mayhem at that tournament even without Woods in the field). But, apparently it turns out I will see Woods make a start at TPC Scottsdale in just a few weeks.

Tiger officially announced via his website that he would make his 2015 debut in Phoenix.

“It will be great to return to Phoenix,” he said. “The crowds are amazing and always enthusiastic, and the 16th hole is pretty unique in golf.”

As I mentioned, this will be his first time playing Phoenix in 14 years. In three previous starts, he finished third in 1999 and tied for fifth in 2001.

Woods has plenty of fond or interesting memories from the tournament, though. Who can forget that time the 21-year-old Woods aced the infamous par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale?

Then, there was the “moving the boulder” incident in 1999 when Tiger’s drive ended up stymied about a foot behind a large rock that left him no shot to the green. He knew the rules, though, and the rock could be considered as a “loose impediment.” After conferring with a rules official, Woods asked for a group of fans to lift the boulder out of the way.

As for this year’s event, I’m almost dreading the massive sh*tshow. I mean, the tournament is already the craziest, most chaotic party stop on Tour (and it’s awesome), and now, with the addition of Tiger to the field, I can’t imagine the shenanigans that will create, not to mention the added security measures. At the same time, it’s going to be a pretty cool scene (if you’re into hundreds of thousands of drunks and massive crowds), and like I said, I never thought I’d get to see Tiger endure the bedlam on the 16th.

According to a well-placed source, Woods is staying at the Four Seasons in North Scottsdale. As for his transportation, he has reserved a courtesy car, which he’ll drive on his own without any extra security or a police escort — all resources are already allocated to the Super Bowl.

Speaking of Super Bowl XLIX, it’s being held in town this year at the University of Phoenix Stadium — which might have been an incentive for Woods to make his return to the Phoenix Open. As an avid sports fan, I’m betting Tiger wants to go to the game, which kicks off shortly after the last putt drops on Sunday of the tournament.

Meanwhile, Woods also committed to play the following week at Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, which is traditionally where he makes his first start in the U.S. for the year. As a professional, Tiger has won eight times at Torrey Pines.

“Torrey is a very important place to me,” wrote Woods. “My pop took me there when I was younger, and I have a lot of special memories of watching the Tour play there when I was growing up.”

Woods is looking to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2014. He endured back surgery last March 31st and only made seven starts (of which he withdrew from three). His best finish was T25 at the no-cut WGC-Cadillac Championship in March. More recently in December, Woods played in the tournament he hosts that benefits his foundation, the Hero World Challenge. His health and body felt fine, but he finished tied for last place and 26 shots off the pace of the winner, Jordan Spieth.

(Photo: Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated)