After missing the cut in Abu Dhabi, Tiger Woods returned stateside this week and opened his PGA Tour season with a win at Torrey Pines. It was a convincing victory, as Woods took a two-shot lead at the midpoint and then extended it with no one coming close over the final two rounds.
Now that he's debuted with a win, the question of where Woods will show up next comes to the fore. Tiger keeps his schedule closely guarded, rarely confirming that he'll play in a tournament more than two weeks before its start. But looking at his schedule history and recent comments, it's possible to narrow down his next PGA Tour appearance.
The Tour's west coast swing now makes the annual stop at TPC Scottsdale for the rowdy Waste Management Open. We already know Woods won't be in attendance next week. But what about in two weeks at the 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Woods had not played at the former Bing Crosby Clambake in recent years, but he did make an appearance last season, veering off his typical schedule as he worked on his game and Sean Foley-redesigned swing. It was an early-season highlight, as both Woods and Phil Mickelson were paired together in the final group on Sunday.
But while Woods was wrapping up the win at Torrey Pines, officials with the Pebble Beach Pro-Am confirmed that Tiger would not make it this year -- a bit of a letdown at a historic stop. Steve John, the tournament director confirmed the schedule news (via Ron Kroichick of San Francisco Chronicle):
"Much to our disappointment, Tiger will not be playing in the AT&T this year," John wrote.
After Phoenix and Pebble, the Tour swings back to Southern California for another historic stop at Riviera. This annual stop in Los Angeles typically provides great February drama, like last year when Mickelson, Bill Haas, and Keegan Bradley all went to a playoff. But Woods has not played in the event since 2006, and skipping the tournament in his hometown has been the subject of much discussion as well as criticism.
Tiger and reporters at his press conference on Tuesday in San Diego had a bit of a tense confrontation when the subject of his schedule, and Riviera, came up. When asked if he would play in the former L.A. Open, now Northern Trust Open, it led to this comical exchange (via Jill Painter of the L.A. Daily News):
Woods, asked about whether he'll play the Northern Trust Open, said, "I'm going to play a few tournaments coming up."
Asked what it would take for him to play Riviera again, Woods said: "I don't know. We'll just see."
At this point, with a win now under his belt, it's unlikely that Tiger will play at Riviera. That leaves the WGC Accenture Match Play event in Arizona as his likely next stop, which is just under a month away (Feb. 20-24). Tiger has won the match play event three times, most recently in 2008. He's owned WGC events, and is said to enjoy match play so it's rare for him to miss this unconventional tournament.
So expect to see Tiger next at the WGC Accenture Match Play at the end of February, where he'll try to go two-for-two in Tour events this year. After that, he'll probably play at Doral, Bay Hill and perhaps the Honda Classic which all take place in March and serve as his preparation for The Masters.