Tiger Woods said a lot of interesting things in his press conference on Tuesday at the Hero World Challenge, but the most interesting topic surrounded his 2024 playing schedule. Woods is normally coy about when and where he will play next, even more so when he is returning from injury with some ambiguity to his game. He usually speaks in vague generalities about his future, focusing instead on the present. He almost never discloses his goals or his plan as it relates to playing opportunities.
Tuesday was different, though.
Despite stating that his game is rusty and that he didn't really know what to expect from it this week, he was more optimistic about what tournaments he will tee it up for than he normally is.
"I think that best scenario would be maybe a tournament a month,". "I think that's realistic ... you would have to start with maybe at Genesis and something in March near The Players. Again, we have set up right now the biggest events are one per month. It sets itself up for that. Now, I need to get myself ready for all that. I think this week is a big step in that direction."
The reason for Woods' optimism? His leg is feeling a lot better after undergoing ankle fusion surgery following the 2023 Masters.
"I had my subtalar fused. I'm excited to compete and play and I'm just as curious as all of you are to see what happens because I haven't done it in a while," he said. "I can tell you this, I don't have any of the pain that I had at Augusta or pre that in my ankle. Well, other parts are taking the brunt of the load so I'm a little more sore in other areas, but the ankle's good. So that surgery was a success."
As for where Woods will most likely tee it up in 2024, we spent some time considering that and guessing where he is most likely to play. Part of the guesswork depends on whether you think he meant literally every month or whether "every month" was simply a phrase for roughly eight times during an eight-month season.
Anyway, here are the guesses.
This has become Woods' new Torrey Pines. He almost always opens the year here, partly because it's Riviera but mostly because his foundation is the tournament host.
Woods should be qualified as a major champion over the last five years, and while Bay Hill the week prior is probably a more comfortable place for him to play, the timing of The Players -- equidistant between the Genesis and the Masters -- works out well for him.
Woods has played each of the other three majors 22 times. He's played the Masters 25 times. It is clearly a priority.
Tiger missed the cut at Valhalla the last time the PGA was played there in 2014 when Rory McIlroy won.
This will be a great U.S. Open, and one of the more interesting spots for Woods to potentially be competitive depending on how much rust he can knock off. One interesting note is that Woods is not yet qualified for the U.S. Open because his exemption ran out last year. Even if he does not qualify, however, he is expected to receive an exemption from the USGA.
Tiger did not play at Royal Troon in 2016 when Henrik Stenson beat Phil Mickelson.
This is a sensible schedule for Woods. After that, it gets more ambiguous. The only notable events between The Open and the end of the season are the Olympics, which Woods is unlikely to qualify for, and the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which he could earn enough points for from these tournaments but again is unlikely.
Does that mean he adds maybe a Bay Hill in March or Memorial in June? Perhaps. It will likely come down to how his body is feeling in the moment. But as of right now, based on how he spoke on Tuesday, I would lean toward him playing more than we have seen him play in recent seasons.