Woods shut down his overseas travel in 2007 after the birth of his first child, and couldnt play last year as he recovered from knee surgery. He announced last week he would play in Australia for the first time since the Presidents Cup in 1998.
The trip Down Under comes with a $3 million appearance fee, half of which comes from taxpayers in the state of Victoria.
Woods defended the appearance money when asked about it at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
This is the only place that doesnt have appearance fees, Woods said of the PGA Tour. Most of the guys get appearance fees to play around the world. Ive played all around the world and Ive thoroughly enjoyed going.
Obviously, theres some controversy behind it, but Im really looking forward to getting down there and competing.
The HSBC Champions is expected to become a World Golf Championship, and when it does, it will be the only WGC event that Woods has not won. But it wont be his first appearance at the tournament in Shanghai.
He was runner-up in 2005 and 2006. Phil Mickelson won the HSBC a year later.
ADVICE FROM THE KING: Despite his clout and respect, Arnold Palmer isnt one to dispense advice on how players should behave. His only request might be that they remember how the PGA Tour started ' and how good they have it now.
In his first PGA Tour event, the total purse was $10,000. Even last-place money at the Arnold Palmer Invitational gets more than that.
But its not only about the money.
I can think about the years that I played the tour from 1955 to present day, and I can tell you that things have changed, he said.
Palmer said the tour began with what he called the Winter Tour, which now is the West Coast Swing. From there, players would drive across the country, eventually heading to Florida and then north to Augusta National for the Masters.
When we played the Winter Tour, we always looked forward to getting to Augusta because of the condition and things at Augusta that we didnt have generally, he said. That doesnt mean that Im being critical. Im only pointing out that the conditions of the golf course and the purses that we played for have all changed. I think more than ever, we kind of took all that for granted.
I would say that they need to understand more about what the tour is all about, how it got to be where it is, and my advice would be to take a good, long look ' and then maybe realize it didnt just happen. Its taken a lot of years for it to happen.
KIM OUT: For the second time this year, Anthony Kim had to withdraw from a tournament.
Kim was suffering from the flu when he pulled out of the pro-am at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. By Wednesday afternoon, he still was not feeling well enough to compete.
I am very disappointed to have had to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Kim said in a statement. I was looking forward to playing this tournament for the first time.
Kim also withdrew from the Bob Hope Classic in the California desert, where he went to high school. He had a shoulder injury.
The 23-year-old Kim has played only four times on the PGA Tour this year. He said he would return home to Dallas to recuperate and continue his preparations for the Masters.
PAR FOR THE COURSE: Arnold Palmer says Bay Hill is in the best shape he can remember, but hes not done with it yet.
Palmer said the course would be redone on May 15, mainly changing the soil on the greens to make them more consistent and eliminate the problem they had with nematodes last year that nearly killed them. The routing will not change, but Palmer said he would create more collection areas and eliminate a few bunkers that arent in play.
And he suggested returning Bay Hill to a par 72 for his tournament.
Were not going to try to make it any more difficult than it is, he said. Well probably go back to a par 72, I dont know. Thats something we can talk about. What we do to Bay Hill for next year will be something that we hope will make it more exciting and bring the golf course back to where wed like to have it.