It’s a Thursday afternoon, the final day of November, and you’re probably just trying to hibernate and hide from your work. The good news is you’ll have a pretty amazing diversion to ignore said work.
Tiger Woods makes his return to golf in Thursday’s first round at the Hero World Challenge. This is supposed to be a relatively meaningless offseason event but for the past few years, it’s been one of golf’s must-watch tournaments. It’s been the spot where Woods, who has been largely absent from the game since 2014, has made his return from long injury layoffs. It’s an event that he hosts and benefits his foundation. It’s held in the Bahamas near a spot where he has a home and docks a yacht. And there are just 18 players in the field of a low-stakes, low-stress silly season hit-and-giggle fest.
At this event last year, Woods led the field in birdies. Of course, he came in 15th of 17 players, but the birdie runs whipped everyone into a frenzy after waiting and waiting for Woods to finally play competitive golf.
We could get more of the same Tiger-mania this year, with birdies rolling in during a four-day stretch where not winning but just completing 72 holes is the priority. Woods is almost certainly going to finish in the bottom half of the 18-man field and that’s fine. We just want to see him back in front of the cameras and playing against some of the top pros in the world. We’ll get that on Thursday, when he tees off with reigning player of the year, Justin Thomas.
Woods’ tee time for the opening round is 12:05 p.m. ET. Golf Channel’s coverage does not start until 12:30 p.m., but their pregame show, which goes live at 11:30 a.m., should cover every shot from the first few holes during that 25-minute gap. If you’re unable to watch on TV because it’s a Thursday afternoon and you should be at work, there will be a streaming option to sneak open and watch on your phone or computer. Golf Channel’s Live Extra service will simulcast the TV coverage.
There’s next to nothing going on in the sports world on a random November Thursday afternoon. Woods will be the show. We keep hearing about how he’s got the “speed” back in his swing and he’s once again bombing it out there with the bigger hitters on Tour, even Dustin Johnson. If that’s the case, you can expect plenty of club twirls and aggressive struts off the tee boxes. It doesn’t mean anything for the larger PGA Tour season, but it will be one of the higher rated events all year.
Here are all your media options for the first round of the Hero:
Thursday's first round coverage
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. -- Golf Channel pregame show with coverage of Woods’ start
12:30 to 4:30 p.m. -- Golf Channel
Replayed from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. ET
11:30 to 4:30 p.m. -- Golf Channel simulcast stream
12:30 to 4:30 p.m. — PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 92/208 and streamed here)