Dan Box
By Dan Box

15-time major winner Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour this week at the Genesis Invitational, an event he hosts and which benefits his TGR Foundation.

Whilst the PGA Tour is already in full swing this season, with big events at Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and TPC Scottsdale having taken place, it feels like things are really starting to ramp up as we head towards the most important events of the year, and Tiger's presence only heightens that.

This will be Tiger's first PGA Tour start since The Masters in 2023, when he withdrew due to injury and then ended up undergoing surgery on his ankle a couple of weeks later.

We last saw him playing at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas before Christmas, where he finished in 18th place, before teaming up with son Charlie at the PNC Championship.

Of course, the main thing to watch this week will be whether his body can keep up with the strains of playing four days of competition golf, as he has made just eight starts since winning the Zozo Championship back in 2019.

Perhaps the biggest difference for Tiger this week is the fact that he will no longer be wearing Nike clothing or shoes, with the iconic TW logo also gone, after he ended a 27-year partnership with the sporting giant.

Tiger has partnered with TaylorMade Golf - who's clubs he also uses - to create his new brand named Sun Day Red, which already seems to have divided opinion among golf fans.

From our point of view, Tiger always looks pretty smart on the golf course, whatever brand he's wearing, and we're sure that there will be plenty of die-hard fans looking to get their hands on the latest merch when it becomes available in May.

In terms of equipment, Woods has also been testing out the new TaylorMade Qi10 Tour Fairway Wood, to replace his current SIM Ti Fairway, as well as an updated model of the Bridgestone Tour B X ball that he has used for the last few seasons.

Another change for 2024 is that Tiger will have a new caddie on the bag, after long-term looper Joe LaCava moved to caddy for Patrick Cantlay full-time whilst Tiger was out injured.

Lance Bennett has taken up the reins for this week's event, having previously worked with Matt Kuchar, Sungjae Im and a number of LPGA Tour players. He is currently on the bag of rising star Adrien Dumont de Chassart, who is not playing this week, but it remains to be seen whether Tiger will make a more permanent arrangement following the event.

At his Wednesday press conference, reporters took the opportunity to ask Tiger to give his thoughts on the ongoing PGA Tour negotiations with PIF, LIV Golf and the now-completed $3 billion investment from the Strategic Sports Group. As one of the PGA Tour Policy Board's six player directors, Tiger has helped to oversee negotiations between parties over the last couple of months, and had the following to say:

“The consortium, SSG, the partners have come together to be a part of this group, It's quite remarkable to be honest with you, in the sports industry. They are unbelievable leaders and at a time when we need great leadership going forward, I think that this elicits that. It has amazing brains and ideas that can make this tour better and we’re looking forward to that."

“The PIF deal is ongoing. SSG, we have solidified our agreement with them and PIF is still ongoing and we are still negotiating.

“Ultimately we would like to have PIF be a part of our tour and a part of our product. But financially, we don’t (need them) now. And so with SSG and the amount of money that they have come to the table with and what we initially had agreed to in the framework agreement, those are all the same numbers."

“So anything beyond this is going to be obviously over and above. We’re in a great position right now, hopefully we can make our product better in the short term and long term.”

As we've come to learn many times over the years, you write Tiger Woods off at your peril. The man just never knows when he's beaten and has continually defied the odds throughout his career. If his body allows him to get enough practice in and play four rounds in competition, you have to still think that his game will be good enough to contend on certain courses.

This year Tiger has suggested that he is looking to play around once a month, which we can pretty safely assume will include each of the four majors, the Players Championship, and a couple of other big events dotted around that suit his eye.

The Genesis Invitational, where Tiger first made his PGA Tour debut way back in 1992, is one of the only events that he keeps returning to but hasn't actually won, so a victory this week after so little golf really would be extraordinary.

But, he's Tiger Woods. So as ever, you just never really know.

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