Tracking Tigers Tour Stops

By Mercer BaggsMay 5, 2004, 4:00 pm
Tiger Woods rarely strays from his scheduled path.
If he played a tournament last year, its likely that he played it the year before; and likely that he will play it once again this year as well.
But this week, Tigers road leads him, for the first time, to Charlotte, N.C., for the Wachovia Championship.
Its not as though Woods has had ample opportunity to compete at Quail Hollow Club ' its only the events second year of existence, but it is a new tournament on Tigers normal carbon copy of a competitive calendar.
'Last year I wanted to play this tournament, but I wasn't quite ready to play so I didn't enter,' Woods said Wednesday. 'This year it has been on the schedule the entire year.'
Woods played in 18 PGA Tour events last year; and 19 official tournaments worldwide.
And despite the fact that he didnt start the 2003 season until mid-February due to knee surgery, that was still the same number of events that he played the previous year.
The man is a true creature of habit. And if he had his druthers, he would inhabit a golf course less often than he already does.
I wish I could play less, he said at last years Disney Classic. Its too much of a grind. The whole atmosphere wears you out. Once you get to a tournament site, I have to deal with a lot more than most of the pros.
Woods doesnt like to reveal his playing schedule far in advance. But it doesnt take an act of clairvoyance to figure out where you are most likely to see him year in and year out.
In addition to the four major championships and the three World Golf Championship events, he annually qualifies for the Mercedes Championships and the Tour Championship.
So, unless injury factors into the equation, those comprise about half of his annual 18 or so PGA Tour events.
Then there are the regular tour events that he regularly plays: Nissan Open, Buick Invitational, Bay Hill Invitational, Players Championship, Memorial Tournament, Western Open and Disney.
He has never skipped any of these tournaments more than once, beginning in his first full season in 1997.
That would add seven more to his total, leaving room for only two or three ' maybe four ' more tournaments ' either in the U.S. or on the European Tour ' each season.
Add to that the fact that his Tiger Woods Foundation is the chief benefactor of the Deutsche Bank Championship ' a PGA Tour event Woods played in last year and has already committed to this season ' and that creates even less room for more operation.
The addition of the Wachovia to his schedule this year means the subtraction of the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany (May 20-23). Tiger has won that tournament three of the five times in which he has played it, but hes not the defending champion; and hes decided to stay Stateside between the seasons first two majors.
After a month away, following his disappointing tie for 22nd at the Masters, Woods returns to competitive action this week, ready to make his annual prep-run for the U.S. Open.
Woods usually plays in three tournaments between the Masters and U.S. Open. This year it will be the Wachovia, the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and the Memorial Tournament.
Tiger has played in the Memorial ' Jack Nicklaus tournament ' in each of his first seven full seasons on the PGA Tour. Hes played Byron Nelsons namesake six times, skipping the event in Germany last year, instead opting to take the money and defend his title in the Deutsche Bank - SAP Open, The two tournaments were scheduled opposite each other last year.
Of course, this is his Wachovia debut ' and his first tournament in nearly a month.
Woods schedule is filled with such holes three or four times each year. But while he is wont to take off his fair share of time, he manages to maximize his returns.
Woods has competed in 22 official PGA or European tour events in his career after taking off at least three weeks. This means no tournament golf in between events ' no Target World Challenge, no Presidents Cup, no Ryder Cup, no PGA Grand Slam or Skins Game or anything of the like.
He has won 9 of those 22 events, and has 15 top-5 finishes.
That 41-percent winning average is even better than his overall career winning percentage of 26.3 (40 wins in 152 starts as a professional).
Woods will likely play more frequently over the next 2 1/2 months, and may end up playing in excess of 20 tournaments for the season.
This is his ninth start of the season, including his trip to the United Arab Emirates in March for the Dubai Desert Classic.
The Wachovia and Byron Nelson Championship are back-to-back; the Memorial is three weeks thereafter. Then it becomes a possible week-off, week-on scenario.
The Buick Classic is sandwiched between the Memorial and the U.S. Open. Woods has played the Westchester event three times, but never when it was contested prior to the National Championship.
If he skips the Buick Classic, his schedule could be: Memorial, yes; Buick Classic, no; U.S. Open, yes; Booz Allen Classic, no; Western Open, yes; John Deere Classic, no; British Open, yes.
Thats a possibility. After that, its even more uncertain.
There are three tournaments between the seasons final two majors. Its highly ' highly ' unlikely that he would play the Greater Milwaukee Open, where he made his professional debut in 1996, which is the week after the British.
But the following week is a possibility. Woods has played the Buick Open in Michigan five times, and won it in 2002. And considering he rarely plays the week before a major ' not to mention the fact that he is a Buick spokesperson ' it is more probable that he would play that event than the International, which directly precedes the PGA Championship.
If he does follow this unscheduled path that would be 16 tournaments started.
In addition to the Deutsche Bank Championship in the U.S., where he has already committed to play, it is almost certain that he would play the final two WGC events - the NEC Invitational and American Express Championship - and the Tour Championship.
And if he plays the Disney Classic, which he has each and every year since he turned professional, that would push his season total to 21 ' 20 on the PGA Tour and one exclusively on the European Tour.
Thats not an overabundance ' Vijay Singh played 27 PGA Tour events last year, but Woods hasnt played 20 PGA Tour events since 2000.
You can also add in his annual appearance in the made-for-television Battle at the Bridges, on Aug. 2, as well as the Dunlop Phoenix Open (where he has committed to play) in Japan in November, and his own Target World Challenge in December.
Not to mention a little thing called the Ryder Cup.
And, if hes fortunate enough, a return trip to Hawaii for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
So, based on educated speculation, Woods may have only one more three-week layoff ' between the WGC AmEx and Disney, in October ' for the remainder of 2004.
Perhaps not what Woods really wants, but certainly what fans ' and the tour ' hope to see happen.
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Related Links:
  • 2004 PGA Tour Schedule
  • Full Coverage - Wachovia Championship
  • Getty Images

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    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

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    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

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    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

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