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Posted on October 04, 2016 by UNITED PHOTO PRESS MAGAZINE
With the FedExCup playoffs and the Ryder Cup behind us, the golf season is officially over.
But don’t expect too much of an offseason. The new PGA Tour season — the wraparound 2016-17 schedule — begins Oct. 13 in California’s wine country.
Tiger Woods will be the story at the $6 million Safeway Open, which will be played Oct. 13-16 at Silverado Country Club’s North Course in Napa. After a week in the distant background as a vice captain for the victorious U.S. team at the Ryder Cup, Woods is about to take the spotlight again, returning to competition for the first time in 14 months (since the 2014 Wyndham Classic).
Woods, 40, will first play in an invitational for his foundation on the Monterey Peninsula on Oct. 10-11 before getting an early start on what looks to be a full 2016-17 season. The 14-time major champion said last month that he’s looking forward to a “fun fall,” with tournaments in Turkey and the Bahamas to follow the events in California.
Don’t look now, but after taking more than a year off while recovering from multiple back surgeries, Woods is given 50-1 odds of winning the FedExCup title in 2017, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Entering the new season, only 12 golfers have better odds of winning the playoff title (Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson and Hideki Matsuyama).
Not bad for a player ranked 767th in the world.
It was tough to glean anything from the Ryder Cup, other than Woods looked fine walking the course all week and seemed energized by being around the guys again. A number of the U.S. players even pushed Woods to swing a club at Hazeltine during practice rounds, to no avail.
Woods didn’t pick up a club at the Ryder Cup, but will be teeing it up again at the Safeway Open in California to start the 2016-17 PGA Tour season.
Woods, who won the last of his 79 PGA Tour titles in 2013, has said he hopes his game is ready to go.
A month ago, Woods said that how much he’ll play is dependent on his continued progress and recovery. But returning for the first event of the season is an indication that he’s planning a full 2016-17 schedule after missing the entire 2015-16 season.
The field for a fall season event won’t be as testing as others on the schedule and it gives him longer prep time for next year’s majors. The Masters, the first of golf’s four major championships, is still six long months away.
Woods has been more cautious with his latest recovery, spending time with his children while focusing on his golf course design projects and on the 20th anniversary of his foundation. He was also all-in as a vice captain at the Ryder Cup, players said, with his preparations starting well before the week of the event.
Brandt Snedeker told a story about the frequent phone calls he got from Woods (including one that lasted 90 minutes) and said Woods spent more time in the month leading up to the Ryder Cup than all of the other assistant captains combined.
After more than a year on the sidelines, Woods is now bringing that same intensity back to competition. It’s a return to the limelight after his unusual turn as part of the scenery at Hazeltine.