Woods adds Dubai to complete busy start to the year
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 06, 2017 09:38 AM
FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Tiger Woods lines up a putt on the 17th hole during the final round of the Hero World Challenge golf tournament in Nassau, Bahamas. A new year starts with an old topic, with a twist. Instead of wondering when Tiger Woods will play, the question now is how will he play? (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer
KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — After playing one tournament in 15 months, Tiger Woods feels good enough to schedule four events in five weeks that cover opposite sides of the country and the world.
Woods filled out the rest of his early schedule Thursday by saying he would return to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
He had not played since August 2015 while recovering from two back surgeries, returning last month in the Bahamas at the Hero World Challenge. Woods made 24 birdies in 72 holes, but he finished 15th in a 17-man field.
"I am working hard to sharpen my game for 2017, and my goal is simple: to win," Woods said in a blog on his website.
Woods makes his 2017 debut at Torrey Pines on Jan. 26-29, and then he will cross 12 time zones to play in Dubai. After a week off, he returns to California for the Genesis Open at Riviera, and the following week heads to Florida for the Honda Classic.
The last time the 41-year-old Woods played four times in five weeks was early in 2013 — the Match Play in Arizona, followed by three of the four tournaments that made up the Florida swing.
What pleased him about his return at the Bahamas, beyond his 24 birdies, was his health.
"The only doubt I had was the physicality of the round — the length and duration — because I hadn't been able to practice or play much golf," Woods said.
Woods said he and his two children were hit with a virus before Thanksgiving, and he ran out of energy toward the end of the tournament. He attributed some of the energy loss to be host of the Hero World Challenge and having other functions to attend.
"I know many people doubted whether I would play competitive golf again, and to be honest, even I wasn't sure," Woods said. "My love for the game never left. It's just that the body would not allow me to play. Now my body is allowing me to do it again."
Woods got in one high-profile round after the Bahamas. He played with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump International in West Palm Beach, Florida.
"What most impressed me was how far he hits the ball at 70 years old," Woods said. "He takes a pretty good lash." He said they didn't have a match, covered a variety of topics and "enjoyed the bantering, bickering and needling."
Woods said he still was testing equipment because Nike announced last year will no longer be making clubs and golf balls. Woods recently signed a deal with Bridgestone Golf to plays its ball, noting that Bridgestone once make the Nike golf ball he has used since 2000. He said he likely would keep using his Nike irons and his old Scotty Cameron putter.
Woods, whose 79 PGA Tour victories are three short of the career mark set by Sam Snead, is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines (including the 2008 U.S. Open). He last played there in 2014 when he missed the 54-hole cut. A week later in Dubai, where he had won twice, Woods tied for 41st. That year was the start of back trouble that led to the first of his three surgeries and caused him to miss the Masters for the first time.