The biggest party in golf will now have the biggest star.
Tiger Woods confirmed via Twitter Friday that he will begin his 2015 season at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which begins Jan. 29, and then compete in the Farmers Insurance Open, which he has won seven times.
Woods has played the Phoenix Open three times, but not since 2001. His history in the event is well-documented, from the raise-the-roof ace in 1997 to the gallery helping move a boulder in front of his ball in 1999 to the unruly fan who threw an orange in ’01.
"It will be great to return to Phoenix," Woods said on his website. "The crowds are amazing and always enthusiastic, and the 16th hole is pretty unique in golf. Torrey is a very important place to me. My pop took me there when I was younger, and I have a lot of special memories of watching the Tour play there when I was growing up."
Starting my year off at Phoenix & Torrey back-to-back weeks. I’m ready to go. Should be a lot of fun. http://t.co/sRnFLf6NvM— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) January 9, 2015
More than 550,000 fans attended the 2014 event, but expect even more pandemonium this year, with Super Bowl XLIX being played in Glendale, about 30 miles away from TPC Scottsdale. The final round of the tournament is scheduled to end less than an hour before kickoff.
The story was first reported Wednesday by Golf.com. Agent Mark Steinberg told GolfChannel.com later that day that there was “nothing committed yet.”
Woods has never started his season at the Phoenix Tour stop, but adding an event allows the former world No. 1 to make five starts before the Masters, assuming he plays his regular early-season schedule (Torrey, Honda, Doral, Bay Hill). In his four Masters victories, Woods made an average of 6.75 starts in the run-up to the year’s first major.
It’s been more than a decade (2004) since Woods made back-to-back regular-season starts on the West Coast.
Woods played in just seven PGA Tour events last season because of injury. When he returned to competition at the World Challenge in December, Woods appeared slimmer and more consistent off the tee, but he struggled badly around the greens and finished in a tie for last in the 18-man field.
In Phoenix, Woods will join a field that is expected to include Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar. Last year, Tom Weiskopf oversaw a 7 ½-month renovation of tournament host TPC Scottsdale that included, among other things, the relocation of four bunkers, the resurfacing of all greens and the re-landscaping of the desert areas.