Tiger Woods playing Valspar? Some think so

Getty Images

Tiger Woods playing Valspar? Some think so

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods playing Valspar? Some think so

Tiger Woods is undoubtedly preparing himself for next month’s return to Augusta National. Yet we still don’t know where he’ll play from now until then.

All indications point to Woods playing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks, but Woods, an eight-time winner at Bay Hill, has yet to officially commit. With Woods not eligible for the two WGC events, including this week’s stop in Mexico City, that leaves two other events for Woods to consider: next week’s Valspar Championship and the Houston Open, which is the week prior to the Masters.

Woods typically doesn’t play the week before the Masters, so Houston is out. But what about the Valspar?

Though Woods has never played a PGA Tour event at Innisbrook, he is listed on the tournament’s list of possible commitments. So far this season Woods has played three official tournaments, plus his exhibition event last December in the Bahamas. Woods finished solo 12th last week at the Honda Classic.

“Really, this is the best chance (for him to play here),” Valspar tournament director Tracy West told the Tampa Bay Times last month. “… If there was ever a time. I stay in constant contact with his agent, Mark Steinberg. We are still on the possibility list. At least we are not a no.”

Woods has until Friday at 5 p.m. Eastern to officially commit to Valspar, which already has a field that includes Rory McIlroy, who is making his Valspar debut, and Sergio Garcia, who is playing the tournament for the first time since 2013.

Golf Channel analysts Brandel Chamblee and David Duval both believe Woods will play next week at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Fla.

“I think it’s imperative that he should go play Valspar, (with the assumption that he’ll) more than likely play Bay Hill,” Duval said. “But I think he’ll play Valspar. It’s a good place to work on all parts of your game. And you don’t have to drive it a ton there. You’ve got to deal with swirling winds, elevation changes. So I think it would be a very good thing for him to go play Valspar. It looks like it’s about reps and about exposure, putting yourself under the gun and seeing how you perform and how your golf swing holds up. A couple more opportunities to do that would be very beneficial.”

Added Chamblee: “It wouldn’t surprise me if he played Valspar and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’ll come in (to the Masters) a little light. But I saw mostly what I needed to see at the Honda to think he could be an absolute contender at Augusta National. … His iron play was very sharp. His short game was far sharper than I ever thought I’d see it again. I think he’s very close. One or two tournaments I think would be just enough for him. And I think he needs to contend again and get into the hunt.”


More Golfweek