Tiger’s early Christmas gifts for golf fans

Tiger Woods is back! Here’s when he’ll be playing in the run-up to Christmas and why golf fans will get to see how his son Charlie is being inspired by Rory McIlroy.

The 15-times major winner had been due to play the Hero World Challenge last week before plantar fasciitis became the latest injury to halt his return to play. Woods, who turns 47 this month, has not featured in the event – which he hosts and has won five times – since 2019.

The 2020 contest was cancelled due to Covid-19 and he had to miss last year’s contest as he continued to recover from career-threatening leg injuries from a car crash in February 2021.

The tournament – which benefits Tiger’s charity, TGR Foundation – was won by Viktor Hovland, who became only the second back-to-back winner of the event, after Woods.

Rory and Tiger

The former world number one is due to play alongside Rory McIlroy in The Match next Saturday, and is also in the field for the PNC Championship, where he will partner his 13-year-old son, Charlie.

Both events will feature golf carts. Following his withdrawal from the Hero World Challenge, he said: “I can hit the golf ball and hit whatever shot you want. I just can’t walk.” Woods has said he will never use a golf cart in mainstream tournaments.

The seventh edition of The Match, a 12-hole competition, is scheduled for December 10, at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida, with Woods and current world number one McIlroy due to team up to play Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

That is followed by the PNC Championship on December 17 and 18, where Woods will play alongside Charlie. The duo finished as runners-up to John Daly and son John Daly II in the 2021 edition of the two-player, 36-hole scramble event.

Will Tiger play more in 2023?

The Match

Woods only made three starts in 2022, finishing 47th at The Masters and withdrawing after the third round at the PGA Championship, before missing the cut at the 150th Open in July.

“The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more,” he said this month. “Physically that’s all I can do. I don’t have much left in this leg so gear up for the biggest ones, hopefully lightning catches in a bottle and I’m up there in contention with a chance to win. Then hopefully I remember how to do that.”

The physical exertion required to walk across the hills of Augusta National makes it highly unlikely Woods will win another Masters. But The Open returns to Royal Liverpool next year, where Woods won the last of his three Claret Jugs in 2006, and he’ll be focused on making that. In February he’ll also be hoping to feature at the Genesis Invitational, another event he hosts.

Copy Rory’s swing, not mine”

Charlie Woods

In the build-up to the the Hero World Challenge, Woods was asked when he thinks his son would start to outdrive him. He replied: “It’s already happened. He hit a drive at Medalist and got me by a yard.”

Though Charlie has many of his father’s mannerisms on the golf course, it’s another player providing the inspiration for the young golfer’s swing.

Woods added: “’I told him, don’t copy my swing, copy Rory’s. Have you ever seen Rory off balance on a shot? No, not ever. You can swing as hard as you want on a shot, but you need to have balance.”

Golf fans will not only get to see the greatest golfer of his generation back on the fairways in the coming weeks, but possibly a glimpse of the future.

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