Tiger Woods isn’t playing the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, Fla., but he’ll be the big news yet again this week.
He’s guaranteed to do one of two things that will irritate his PGA Tour brethren.
He’ll either commit to playing next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, or he won’t.
The deadline for committing is Friday, though Woods will likely commit earlier if he’s going to play.
If Woods commits, fellow PGA Tour pros will be annoyed because it will detonate a news story that will dwarf anything that occurs at Innisbrook. They know it will set into motion plans for the hostile invasion of their world, a raid by paparazzi, supermarket tabloid reporters and entertainment news media. But it’s what they don’t know about who or what’s coming that they really dread.
If Woods commits, somebody may as well pitch a big-top tent over Bay Hill because the circus is coming to town.
“I think we’re all looking forward to having him back,” Jim Furyk said. “He’s our best player, and we need him back. We’re just looking forward to when it’s business as usual, not the circus.”
If Woods doesn’t commit, it will prolong speculation about when he’ll finally return, speculation more and more PGA Tour pros are finding as tolerable as a skin rash.
Of course, there’s the possibility Woods commits to playing the Tavistock on Monday and Tuesday at the Isleworth development where Woods lives outside Orlando. That news still dwarfs the action at Innisbrook while prolonging speculation as to when Woods will play a real tournament.
Stance: Woods has never played in the Transitions Championship, but his shadow’s there this week.
Takeaway: A strong field takes to Innisbrook this week with Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter, Geoff Ogilvy, Vijay Singh and Stewart Cink scheduled to tee it up. There’s also a nice contingent of under-30 talent looking to make headlines with Dustin Johnson, Sean O’Hair, J.B. Holmes, Adam Scott, Ryan Moore, Michael Sim, Ryo Ishikawa, Rickie Fowler, Andres Romero and Justin Rose in the mix. David Duval and John Daly will be among the most popular draws as they continue to work on returning to their best forms.
Bunker shot: Retief Goosen goes for a rare double-double this week. He’ll be looking to make it two victories in a row on the PGA Tour for South Africans after Ernie Els’ victory last week at the WGC-CA Championship. Goosen is also the defending champ looking to repeat.
And around the world . . .
European Tour: After a solid tie for 14th at the WGC-CA Championship, Italy’s Francesco Molinari leads the field at the Trophee Hassan II tournament in Morocco. Paul McGinley, the former European Ryder Cupper, is the other notable news there. He’s making his first start in more than three months after undergoing knee surgery.