CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Out of golf for five months until the Masters, Tiger Woods will tee it up again in only two weeks at the Quail Hollow Championship.
Woods announced on Thursday he will play in the PGA Tour event which begins on April 29. It will be his first time playing at a tournament where tickets are sold to the general public since his spectacular downfall from a sex scandal.
Woods tied for fourth last week at the Masters, which has the most controlled gallery in golf. Weekly badges are secured months in advance, and fans fear losing them if caught showing poor etiquette. Woods received warm applause when he teed off in the first round, and the support was steady throughout the week.
Kym Hougham, tournament director for the Charlotte event, said they’ve been preparing for Woods’ possible participation for some time, and will need to make only slight tweaks with security plans.
Hougham doesn’t expect Woods to run into problems from hecklers at Quail Hollow Club.
“I think our crowds are very respectful and they always have been. The players have always told us that,” Hougham said. “If there is inappropriate behavior, we’ll act on it swiftly. I’m sure that if Tiger didn’t feel we could handle it he wouldn’t be coming here.”
The early commitment was a sign that Woods plans to be helpful to the promotion of tournaments. He had been criticized over the years for waiting until the last day to announce he was playing, except for tournaments to which he had a sponsorship connection.
The commitment deadline for Quail Hollow is April 23.
“It’s going to be a huge benefit for the people who have been waiting to buy tickets,” Hougham said. “Ironically, our Saturday daily tickets sold out yesterday. Friday and Sunday are not far behind, so this will probably put us over the top, which we’re excited about. The economy has made people change their buying habits and people are waiting longer.”
Woods has played the Quail Hollow Championship four times, winning in 2007. He finished fourth last year, two shots behind Sean O’Hair.
But his return will be unlike his other visits after his Nov. 27 car crash near his home led to salacious details about his infidelity.
Tournament media director Lee Patterson said the media credential request deadline was April 2, and there were 72 requests on Thursday. Patterson said they’ll make room for reporters with PGA Tour national badges.
What about others, such as celebrity magazines and tabloids?
“We’ll try the best we can,” he said. “At some point, I’ll be maxed out.”
It’s uncertain what Woods’ pre-tournament plans will be, and how often he’ll be available to the media.
Last year, Woods spoke to reporters in Charlotte after playing in the Wednesday pro-am.