It came as a surprise to many in the golf world that Tiger Woods decided to add the Honda Classic to his schedule this year. It didn’t surprise me, and as it turns out, this will be great event for Tiger to play for a few reasons.
The Honda Classic has struggled for years to attract a top field for this PGA event sandwiched between two big WGC tournaments in late February and early March. That’s not the case this year, as fans are buying tickets in droves because of one Tiger Woods.
“I have heard great things about the Honda Classic,” Woods said in a statement leading up to this week’s tournament. “Jack Nicklaus’ involvement in the tournament and the benefits in the local community are also important.”
While this is nice of Tiger to say, and the PGA Tour sure appreciates Tiger’s generosity, the reason Tiger is playing the Honda is because he needs tournament play.
Tiger now returns to an event that he hasn’t played since he was 17 years old and was an amateur. As a bonus, the tournament is now played at PGA National and that is just a few miles from the 14-time major champion’s new home.
I’m sure Tiger has one event circled on his calendar in the coming months and that would be the Masters in April. Playing the Honda Classic gives him four more rounds on a tough course, and there is always a chance Tiger will win. That could be the confidence boost he needs to get on a roll in 2012.
Honda and the tournament are also getting a kick-start from Tiger’s entry. This is the final year Honda is under contract to be a sponsor of the South Florida event, and with problems back in Japan with last year’s earthquake and with Asia still feeling the pinch created by the tsunami, Honda may end its association with the event.
“The buzz up here subsequent to the Tiger announcement has been crazy,” Ken Kennerly, the executive director of the event, said. “There has been a phenomenal turnout of people looking to purchase tickets.”
With Tiger Woods entering the event, there is going to be an added extra expense of additional security and crowd control measures, but that is a small price to pay for a field that includes Tiger Woods.
It appears to be a win for the former world No. 1 as he attempts to get back on track and a tournament that doesn’t want to lose or go a year without a title sponsor. I’m looking for a great event at PGA National.
Rick Limpert covers sports, technology and events in and around Atlanta. He’ll be following Tiger’s progress at The Honda Classic.