December is shaping up to be a busy month for Tiger Woods.
Golf fans haven’t seen the game’s biggest star in competition since April 9, when he withdrew from the Masters during the third round, citing an injury. He underwent fusion surgery on his troublesome right ankle, which had been reconstructed after a single-car rollover crash in early 2021.
But the coming weeks will signal that the oft-injured Woods has his eyes on yet another comeback.
Woods confirmed over the weekend that he will take the 20th and final spot in the Hero World Challenge, a PGA Tour exhibition at Albany in the Bahamas. The $3.5 million tournament on November 30-December 3 awards world-ranking points and benefits his foundation. Justin Rose and Lucas Glover have been added to the field after Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele pulled out. The Hero, which Woods hosts, will feature 16 of the top 25 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, led by No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.
Two weeks later, Woods and 14-year-old son, Charlie, are expected to team in the PNC Championship, a parent-child exhibition at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida. It has become an annual tradition for the Woodses. They finished seventh in 2020, tied for second in 2021 and tied for eighth last year. This year, with father eager to compete again and son basking in the glow of his Benjamin School’s recent team victory in the Florida high school state tournament, Team Woods might have an emotional edge.
In a recent interview, Woods told the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson that “my ankle is fine” and that the pain is “completely gone.”
By easing his way back into competition with two exhibitions before the new year, Woods is expected to have his eyes on the Masters, which he has won five times, most recently in 2019. Woods, who will turn 48 on December 30, remains tied with the late Sam Snead for the all-time victory mark on the PGA Tour, at 82. READ MORE
Paul Azinger will not return to NBC Sports as the network’s main golf analyst after the parties could not agree on a new deal following the expiration of his contract, his manager confirmed.
In early 2019, Azinger replaced Johnny Miller, the sharp-tongued critic who analyzed golf at NBC for nearly 30 years.
Azinger, 63, was a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the 1993 PGA Championship, and he captained the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team to victory at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky, after four appearances in the match as a player.
The move leaves NBC without three of its main voices in the past year. Gary Koch and Roger Maltbie, who had been with the network for a combined 57 years, were let go in December. READ MORE
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Gary Woodland, who had surgery two months ago to remove a lesion on his brain, intends to play a full schedule in 2024, perhaps starting as soon as January, despite what he calls “a long process” in his recovery. Woodland recently posted a swing video and a message of thanks on social media. Woodland, 39, whose four PGA Tour victories include the 2019 U.S. Open, has not competed since August 6. He made 18 cuts in 24 starts, including two top-10s, during the past season. READ MORE
Joe Gorder was named to the tour’s Policy Board. The executive chairman of Valero Energy, which sponsors the PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, succeeds Randall Stephenson, who resigned in July after 12-plus years. READ MORE
Pace of play will come under greater scrutiny in 2024 as the PGA Tour told players last week at the RSM Classic that it will adopt policies to focus on changing the habits of its slowest players, Golfweek’s Adam Schupak reported. READ MORE
Chris Kirk received the tour’s Courage Award last week on St. Simons Island, Georgia, the site of the RSM Classic. Kirk won his fifth PGA Tour title this season after a few rocky years that included a six-month absence in 2019 to address issues of alcohol abuse and depression. READ MORE
Workers at the SoFi Center dome in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, were cleaning up the damage last week after storms partially deflated the future home of the PGA Tour-affiliated TGL golf league, The Palm Beach Post reported. TMRW Sports, which is teaming with co-owners Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy on the primetime team concept, did not disclose whether the damage would alter TGL’s scheduled January 9 debut. READ MORE
Jon Trasamar, the inspiration behind former University of Minnesota teammate Erik van Rooyen’s victory at the recent World Wide Technology Championship, died November 11. He was 33 and had suffered from melanoma. READ MORE
The PGA of America and Sky Sports announced a three-year extension of their broadcast-rights agreement. With the deal, Sky Sports will air the PGA Championship and the Senior PGA in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Sky Sports will air more than 100 tournaments, including all four men’s major championships and the five women’s majors, in 2024. READ MORE
The Asian Tour has elevated the Macau Open to the third edition of the 10-event International Series next year after securing a sponsorship deal with the Wynn Macau hotel and casino. The International Series Macau will be played March 14-17 at Macau Golf and Country Club. The complete Asian Tour schedule was not released. The International Series winner earns exempt membership to LIV Golf. READ MORE
Erica Herman, an ex-girlfriend who lived with Tiger Woods before he locked her out of his estate in Jupiter, Florida, has dropped her appeal of a sexual-harassment lawsuit, according to a media report. Herman now claims that she was not a victim of sexual assault by Woods, whose serial philandering led to a highly-publicized divorce from Elin Nordegren, the mother of his two now-teenage children, in 2010. READ MORE
Dottie Pepper, a 17-time winner on the LPGA and on-course reporter with CBS Sports, has been named winner of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s Old Tom Morris Award for her lifetime commitment to the game. She will receive the award January 31 at the GCSAA’s conference in Phoenix, Arizona. READ MORE
The Epson Tour announced a three-year contract extension with Carlisle Companies, which will sponsor the highest-paying tournament in the LPGA developmental tour’s history. The Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic will be played May 9-12 at TPC Scottsdale’s Champions Course and offer a $400,000 purse, with $60,000 to the winner. The Epson Tour has not released its complete 2024 schedule. READ MORE
Pinehurst (North Carolina) Resort will host its two premier amateur tournaments concurrently in 2024, officials announced. The men’s and women’s North & South Amateur events will be played June 25-29 on the famed No. 2 course, a Donald Ross design that will host the U.S. Open less than two weeks earlier. The No. 4 course also will be used during the first two days for stroke-play qualifying. READ MORE
The 2024 Women’s Amateur Latin America will be played at Lima Golf Club in Peru’s capital, the R&A and Annika Foundation announced. The fourth edition of the tournament will be played November 21-24. The winner will qualify for three professional major championships in 2025 – Chevron, AIG Women’s Open and Amundi Evian – plus a number of amateur exemptions. READ MORE
Compiled by Steve Harmon