Following his worst season on the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods could be back on the golf course earlier than expected. The 39-year-old appears likely to play in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which is scheduled for the final weekend of January in Scottsdale.
According to golf.com, Woods is preparing to play in the event, something he hasn’t done in 14 years. The website reports that Woods has reserved a courtesy car for the tournament and made hotel plans, though nothing is official. He hasn't returned to the course since a fan threw an orange onto the green when he was putting in 2001.
"There is no commitment," Woods's agent, Mark Steinberg, said via ESPN.com. "When we have the early schedule finalized, we will advise."
Woods is looking to bounce back from a sub-par last year that saw him compete in nine tournaments, only four of which he was able to finish. The 14-time major winner missed the cut at the 2014 PGA Championship, and rested for the next four months, hoping to heal from the back injury that he had been dealing with all year. Woods made his return in December, tying for last place in the Hero World Challenge, his charity tournament.
Despite his poor finish, Woods didn’t appear too discouraged at the end of the tournament. He was happy that he was finally able to play a tournament in good health.
"First things first: playing tournament golf without being in pain, without having to call my physio every day or having to put out fires with my body, swing-wise,'' Woods said. "It was nice to be able to hit the ball the way I did this week.''
In addition to being pain-free, Woods played the tournament at a different weight than last season. The golfer said he was five pounds below his preferred weight, but some believe that could help improve his game.
“[Tiger] keeps alluding to the fact that he wants to go back and swing like he did in 2000, and who wouldn't?” the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee said on a conference call. “He’s got to go back and have the body that he had in 2000. He needs to be more sinewy. Now, I've heard that he's lost a lot of weight, and I don't know if that's by design or by consequence, but, regardless, I think that's a step in the right direction.”
Woods is still looking for his first major win since 2008, and he didn’t compete in the 2014 Masters or the 2014 U.S. Open. The Jan. 29-Feb. 1 date of the tournament coincides with the Super Bowl, which will be played in Glendale, Arizona.