October 10, 2014; Stanford, CA, USA; Professional golfer Tiger Woods watches from the sideline during the first half between the Stanford Cardinal and the Washington State Cougars at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Phoenix Open is about to get that much crazier.
Rumors floated around earlier in the week that Tiger Woods would make his 2015 season debut at the Phoenix Open on Super Bowl weekend. Woods made it official on Friday with an announcement on his website.
"“It will be great to return to Phoenix,” Woods said. “The crowds are amazing and always enthusiastic, and the 16th hole is pretty unique in golf."
Woods hasn’t played in the tournament at TPC since 2001 and for good reason. During the 1999 tournament, a man who was heckling Woods had a gun in his possession. A couple of years later, someone in the crowd threw an orange at the golf great and Woods hasn’t been back since.
The now 39-year-old has only played in Phoenix a total of three times during his legendary career, but he’s played well in those appearances. Woods has two top-five finishes, which included a third-place showing in 1999.
Things will be much different for Woods than the last time he was in Phoenix. In 2001, he was by far and away the best player in the world, having already won five majors and he was a few months shy of completing the “Tiger Slam” at the Masters.
Now, he’s coming of a season where he played only nine times due to a back injury. Woods is also now six full years removed from his last major win at the 2008 U.S. Open.
The turn-down in Woods’ career won’t matter much though. Tiger is still the hottest draw in the world, both in terms of attendance and television ratings, and that shouldn’t change when he heads to the Valley.
I’ve attended this tournament for several years now and it’s a unique experience every year I go. With Tiger coming to town, I can only imagine what the atmosphere is going to be like now.
I’ll probably just avoid the crowds and stick to watching the craziness from my couch.