Tiger Woods undecided if he will play in Honda Classic

Golf


Long expected to play the Honda Classic beginning Feb. 22, Tiger Woods will wait to see how things progress this coming week at the Genesis Open before making a decision, his agent said Saturday.

Woods, 42, who returned to competitive golf in December after 10 months away after spinal fusion surgery, will play for the third time when the Genesis Open begins Thursday at Riviera Country Club.

He has until Friday after the second round to commit to the following week’s Honda Classic, near his Florida home. He tied for 23rd two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open after a tie for ninth in December at the unofficial Hero World Challenge.

“He’s approaching this the same way he has been and he’s kind of taking it a week at a time,” said Mark Steinberg, Wood’s agent. “He’s going to get after it this week and then later in the week make a decision. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do now.

“He’s not just going to commit to commit. He’s going to commit when he feels like he’s ready to do so. As he’s been saying for 20-plus years, his schedule is built to peak four times a year, even at age 42. He’s taking it in a very slow and cautious way.”

Woods has played the Honda Classic three times starting in 2012, when he finished tied for second to Rory McIlroy. In 2014, he withdrew during the final round with back issues that led to his first back surgery that spring. He has not been able to play the tournament since that year.

One aspect that Woods is certainly considering is the ability to play back-to-back weeks. A year ago, another comeback was aborted after just two starts when he played the Farmers Insurance Open where he missed the cut and then the following week withdrew after just one round from a tournament in Dubai.

The Genesis Open, which now benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, is the tournament that Woods has played the most without winning, although he last played the event in 2006.

If Woods were to skip the Honda Classic, the number of events he could play to further prepare for the Masters is limited. He is not eligible for the WGC-Mexico Championship the following week. The Valspar Championship outside of Tampa and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he has won eight times, come next before the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, for which he is not eligible. The Houston Open precedes the Masters, but Woods has never played the week before the year’s first major.

“We’re not a ‘no’ at this point, but I think we’re a low possibility,” said Tracy West, tournament director of the Valspar Championship. “I’m just happy we’re still a possibility. Mark has given me no indication it is likely, not at all. And we know he’s weighing a number of scenarios. We’re prepared if he decides to play here.”

Woods has never played the Valspar event, and that would again raise the possibility of playing consecutive weeks if he plans to play the Arnold Palmer tournament.

The 14-time major winner has not played in a major championship since missing the cut at the 2015 PGA Championship. He tied for 17th at the 2015 Masters, the most recent time he played at Augusta National.



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