At The Match: Champions for Charity, we got to see Tiger Woods play golf for the first time in months (and he played really well). It was a breath fresh air for golf fans, especially Tiger loyalists, and came on the heels of the Rory McIlroy/Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler/Matthew Wolff skins match at Seminole.
But as the calendar turns to June, we have the real thing waiting right around the corner. The PGA Tour’s 2019-2020 season finally resumes on June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial, after a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus (though the grandstands will be empty, so golf fans will have to tune in on TV).
Where will Tiger Woods play first?
With the season about to get going, and a full lineup of tournaments planned between now and September, one big question remaining is which tournament Woods will choose to re-start his season.
The next tournament after Colonial is the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, S.C., which will run June 18-21, followed by the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, and the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. The fifth event on the schedule was supposed to be the John Deere Classic, but the tournament was recently canceled in light of coronavirus-related state restrictions.
Predicting which of these events Tiger will play is complicated by the reality that in a normal season, the 15-time major champion likely wouldn’t play any of them. But given the fact that he hasn’t played a Tour event since March, and he’s likely chomping at the bit to return, that will change this year.
Back in April when the revised Tour schedule was first announced, this author predicted Tiger would be swayed by the moment to play the season re-opening event at Colonial. Upon further review, Colonial is out, and we’re now going to peg Tiger’s first start the next week at the RBC Heritage. The Heritage is expected to draw a strong star-studded field, and Harbour Town has a reputation for treating Tour pros well. The commute isn’t too bad from Jupiter, either, making this a solid bet for Tiger’s return.
As we noted in the first column, Woods’ lingering difficulties from his many surgeries mean that it’s very unlikely he will choose to play two weeks in a row, even after having an unscheduled three-month vacation. While he needs to get tournament reps in, the three majors later in the year are what matter most, and he doesn’t want to risk overdoing it this summer.
That means he’ll have one particularly tough decision to make at the end of the summer. The three events that make up the 2020 FedEx Cup Playoffs will occur in consecutive weeks in August. So Tiger will have to choose between competing three weeks in a row, or make a controversial decision to skip one or more playoff events even if he’s qualified.
Tiger Woods’ revised PGA Tour Schedule
Woods famously serves up few clues about which tournaments he will play, and he tends to wait until the last minute to commit to an event. He also won’t rush to enter a field without waiting to his if his body can handle it. So it’s unlikely we’ll get any real answers until a week or two before each event is set to begin.
With all that in mind, here’s my best guess at what Tiger’s revised schedule will look like, focusing solely on the current season, and not the 2020-21 season that begins in October, before the 2020 Masters.
June 18-21: RBC Heritage, Harbour Town, Hilton Head, S.C.
July 2-5: Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit Golf Club, Detroit, Mich.
July 13-19: Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio
Aug. 6-9: PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, Calif.
Aug. 20-23: Northern Trust, TPC Boston, Norton, Mass.
Aug. 27-30: BMW Championship, Olympia Fields CC, Olympia Fields, Ill.
Sept. 17-20: U.S. Open, Winged Foot GC, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Sept. 25-27: Ryder Cup, Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisc.
Nov. 12-15: Masters, Augusta National, Augusta, Ga.
One final note: there are rumors that the Tour will try to fill the now-vacant spot on the calendar where the canceled John Deere Classic was scheduled with another tournament (July 9-12), possibly being played at TPC Sawgrass. Whatever they decide, it could have major ramifications on which events Tiger chooses to play.