Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule has two new additions on the Florida Swing, with the 79-time PGA Tour winner committing to both the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational in the next two consecutive weeks.
Woods made the announcement March 2, the Friday deadline to enter the Valspar Championship and a week ahead of schedule for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, where he has won eight times in his career.
There had been speculation Woods would add just one of the two tournaments, thinking he would prefer an appearance at Bay Hill because of his past there and a historical tendency not to play new events. However, the thinking was that Tampa would offer Woods a fifth playing opportunity before the Masters and give him a different look at a venue he had not seen since the JC Penney Invitational there in 1996, when he teamed up with Kelli Kuehne. Valspar tournament officials held out hope because they had not been explicitly told as recently as last week that they would not be welcoming Woods. Then they found out today Woods, along with Jordan Spieth, will be playing in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Bay Hill will host Woods for the first time since 2013, when he won there for the eighth time in his career. Woods has been dominant in that event in years past, and he’ll join a field which includes Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler.
Woods, ranked 389th in the world, will not play in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, even if he wins at Innisbrook near Tampa and Bay Hill. The cutoff to get in the top 64 in the Official World Golf Ranking is the end of the Valspar Championship, and Woods wouldn’t breach that level in the OWGR even were he to notch an 80th PGA Tour win.
Beyond these two Florida starts, it’s unclear if Woods will add the Houston Open the week before the Masters as a final tune-up. It’s unlikely, as Woods prefers not to play the week before a major (the WGC at Firestone in Ohio notwithstanding).
In his last start, Woods finished in 12th place at The Honda Classic at PGA National.