Tiger Woods’ golf future is biggest enigma of PGA restart

Tiger Woods' golf future is biggest enigma of PGA restart

When will we see him first?

The PGA Tour is resuming its schedule — which has been halted since March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic — with next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Texas, and one of the pressing questions is this: When and where will we see Tiger Woods play next?

Will Woods play one of the first four tournaments on the revised schedule — Colonial, the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, the Travelers or the Rocket Mortgage — all of which will be played with no spectators?

Or will he skip all four and make his return to action at the Memorial, which will be played the week of July 13 and is a regular stop on his schedule?

“He’s the one enigma in all of this,’’ Michael Tothe, the Charles Schwab Challenge tournament director, told The Post this week. “We’d love to have him. But that’s one of those things that’s out there in the universe — if he plays, great, if not, that’s OK, too. He hasn’t played us since 1997.’’

He won’t play next week, either, because the Friday deadline for players to commit to the tournament came and went without a peep from Woods. So, we continue to wait, with Hilton Head next on the clock.

“We haven’t had a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ ’’ Steve Wilmot, the RBC Heritage tournament director, told The Post. “You look at schedule, you look at it being Father’s Day weekend, you look at the potential that he could bring his boat up and dock it here, and there’s the positive side to that. But we have no indication at this time one way or another.’’

No one does.

“We’ve been talking to his group, but he just doesn’t know,’’ Nathan Grube, the Travelers tournament director told The Post. “He’ll make the decision the week before or whatever. I don’t know what’s going to happen with that. If it did work out, great. If it didn’t, we’re going to have the strongest field we’ve ever had [anyway].

“Everybody figures it’s a given that he’s going to play [Memorial], but I’m very curious to see what he’s going to do in those first four events. We’re going to try to put on a good show and it if he shows up, great.’’

Jason Langwell, the tournament director of Rocket Mortgage, said he’s “reached out’’ to Woods’ people “and let them know we’d love to have him and that we think he’d enjoy the experience here.’’

“We’re hopeful that he comes and he knows he’s invited,’’ Langwell said. “We’ve gotten no indications — like every other event. But we’re going to remain optimistic.’’

Woods’ last tournament was in mid-February when he shot 77 in the final round of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, where he finished in last place at the event his foundation hosts.

Woods, citing his surgically repaired stiff back, went on to skip several events he generally plays — the WGC-Mexico Championship, Honda Classic, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship — in an effort to rest up until the Masters, which was postponed until November.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods at the 2019 Memorial.Getty Images

He played in the charity match with Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning two weeks ago at Medalist, his home club in Florida, and looked sharp, hitting all 14 fairways with a swing that looked fluid and pain-free. It was his first competitive action in 98 days.

So, now what?

Will Woods, buoyed by how well he played at Medalist, be drawn more by his desire to get back out and compete again as soon as possible or wait until he can go to place that’s familiar to him and where he’s had success — Memorial, which he’s won five times?

This is the burning question.

Realistically, the upcoming tournaments that Woods is a lock to play — health willing — include the PGA Championship (Aug. 6-9 in San Francisco), the U.S. Open (Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot), the Masters (Nov. 12-15) and his own event, the Hero World Challenge (Dec. 3-6 in the Bahamas).

Add to the majors, the Memorial, at least one of the first two events of the FedExCup Playoffs (the Northern Trust Aug. 20-23 at TPC Boston or the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields in Illinois). If he qualifies, he’d play the Tour Championship (Sept. 3-7 in Atlanta).

If there is a Ryder Cup as scheduled in September and if Woods is qualified (he’s currently eighth in the U.S. points standings), he’ll play that.

Other possibilities include the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational the week before the PGA Championship and the Zozo Championship (Oct. 22-25 in Japan), where he’s the defending champion.

Until he speaks, though, Woods’ itinerary is all speculation.

About the author

Erin Clark

Erin is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional football matches. She is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. She currently caters her skills for the sports and health section of Report Door.