SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – As if Tiger Woods needed any reminder that he hasn’t won a tournament in 18 months and will turn 40 years old later this year, he’ll receive one during the first 36 holes of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, grouped with youngsters Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth.
Teeing it up for the first time in 2015, Woods is making a triumphant return to TPC Scottsdale after a 14-year absence. He admitted Tuesday that a pair of incidents – a heckler toting a handgun in 1999 and a spectator who tossed an orange in his direction two years later – first sparked his decision to discontinue playing here.
“That's one of the reasons why I hadn't played in a while,” he explained. “You know, I think the people here have done a fantastic job over the years and making sure things are a lot more safe.”
Partners at last year’s Ryder Cup, Reed and Spieth are two of the brightest stars in the upcoming generation. Reed, 24, has won four titles since Woods’ last win in August of 2013, and Spieth, 21, is fresh off victories in his last two worldwide starts, including at Woods’ own Hero World Challenge last month.
That group will tee off No. 1 at 2:07 p.m. ET on Thursday and No. 10 at 9:57 a.m. on Friday.
In another featured group, three-time champion Phil Mickelson – trying to become the first player to win this event four times – will play with Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler, beginning at 9:57 a.m. ET on Thursday.
Other groups include Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley and Matt Kuchar (10:06 a.m.); and Bubba Watson, Billy Horschel and Hideki Matsuyama (2:16 p.m.).
Thursday also marks the return of Robert Allenby, who will compete for the first time since an alleged attack following a missed cut at the Sony Open two weeks ago. He will play alongside Brendon de Jonge and Nicholas Thompson, beginning at 1:40 p.m. on Thursday.