Correction/clarification: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of PGA Tour tournaments held between the U.S. Open and British Open. There are four.
Tiger Woods has made the surprising decision to skip next week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte.
Tournament director Gary Sobba said in a radio interview with WFNZ on Friday afternoon that Woods will not play in the event.
Woods has traditionally played the event when healthy and finished T-55 last year. He also struggled on relatively slow greens and mentioned that he putts better on faster greens several times throughout the week.
The 43-year-old has also insisted he’ll play fewer tournaments this season, and Friday’s news means he could potentially go from his Masters victory straight into the PGA Championship at Bethpage with no warm-up.
The PGA Tour goes from Charlotte to the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas, which will be Woods’ final chance to tee it up before the PGA Championship. But he traditionally hasn’t liked to play the week before a major.
He also revealed in a GolfTV interview posted Thursday that he hasn’t done a whole lot of practice work in the weeks following his 15th career major victory at Augusta National.
“I was texting one of my good friends last night after soccer practice that I couldn’t believe I won the tournament,” Woods said. “It hasn’t sunk in. Cause I haven’t started gearing up for my next event, haven’t started prepping my body, haven’t started doing anything.”
Woods played 18 events last year and had trouble building a schedule because he qualified for several additional events throughout the year, like the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and didn’t know how his body would hold up at the start of the season.
The Wells Fargo is now the third event that Tiger won’t play after doing so in 2018. He also skipped the Valspar Championship in Tampa Bay and withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill due to neck problems.
This shouldn’t be entirely surprising, especially considering the added obligations and everything that stemmed from his thrilling Masters win. Back at the Hero World Challenge in December, Woods told everyone he was dialing it back for 2019.
“I need to make sure that I am, as I said, rested and ready to play,” Woods said. “I played all my good tournaments (in 2018) when I had time off and I felt rested. If I didn’t feel rested, I didn’t play well. Maybe that’s just being a little bit older, but I think it’s important, and playing seven of the last nine last year was too much.”
Woods won at Quail Hollow in 2007, when the event was called the Wachovia Championship. He’s also enjoyed plenty of success at the site of next month’s PGA Championship, winning the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
Woods’ intense pre-major buildups are the stuff of golf legend, even if he can’t be as labor-intensive as in year’s past. During the GolfTV interview he described finding a key piece prior to the Masters.
“I found a swing in which I could start drawing the ball,” Woods said. “Because I don’t have the length I used to, I can’t hit 3-wood anymore off some of these tees. You saw a couple times on 10 I hit driver, which I’ve never done before. I’ve lost a little off my fastball so I’ve got to rely on the driver. I found something in my game where I started to feel comfortable turning it.”
Now it’s certainly looking like his non-major schedule will be very light in the coming months. The only tournament set in stone is the inaugural ZOZO Championship in October, with Woods committing to the Japan event earlier this week.
An appearance at the Memorial Tournament two weeks prior to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach still seems likely, after which there are four PGA Tour tournaments ahead of the British Open – the Travelers Championship and two new events with the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Country Club and the 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota. The John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., is the week before the British Open. There’s also the European Tour’s Scottish Open on July 11-14.
All we know for sure at this point is that Woods is so far sticking to his plan of fewer tournaments in 2019.