The Big Cat’s long-awaited return to TPC Scottsdale has been 14 years in the making. Tiger Woods will be kicking off the New Year by participating in his first tournament of 2015 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, set in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. This year’s tournament will be held from January 29th through February 1st, and is expected to draw record-breaking crowds.
Not only does the event mark the first time that Tiger has brought out his Nike golf clubs for the Waste Management Phoenix Open in a decade and a half, but it also lands on the same weekend as Super Bowl XLIX, which is set to kick off a mere thirty miles south of TPC Scottsdale at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday night.
The newly renovated TPC Scottsdale, home of the rowdiest crowds in professional golf bar none, may need a second restoration after Tiger and company skip town, following a weekend that is destined to be filled with thousands of boisterous connoisseurs of birdies and booze. Knowing Tiger’s usual proclivity toward the serene settings of courses like the Augusta National and Quail Hollow, one has to wonder what has prompted his return to the tournament known as the biggest party in golf.
A History of Extraordinary Events
There’s no doubt about it: Tiger’s history at the Waste Management Phoenix Open has been quite sensational. Many fans that have followed the legendary golfer’s career can still remember Woods’ incredible ace at the 16th hole in Scottsdale back in 1997. With nothing more than a Nike golf hat, 9-iron and a riot-inciting swing, Woods sent his ball sailing across the fan-encompassed par-3 hole before two-bouncing it right into the cup. The crowd went wild, beers were thrown, and Tiger raised the roof in awkward fashion. There was no denying that it was a shot for the ages.
Here it is again for nostalgic purposes:
Fast forward to 1999 where Tiger was making waves on the course again, this time after a tee shot on the par-5 13th hole placed his Nike golf ball on the wrong side of a large boulder. It was then that Tiger – along with the help of his caddie and several spectators – moved the boulder out of his way, irking certain critics who felt as if Woods’ large gallery of fans – and helping hands – was an unfair advantage to other golfers on tour.
And who could forget the heckler that was detained by security the same year and was found to be carrying around a gun in his fanny pack? Yes, his fanny pack.
Then there’s the infamous Orange Incident of 2001, where a disruptive spectator lobbed an orange at Tiger while he was trying to putt. I think it’s safe to say that Tiger has quite a tumultuous history during the Phoenix Open, so what’s bringing him back?
Golf’s Biggest Party
Tiger Woods is usually a reserved professional golfer, but it’s no secret that he’s had a tough time getting back into the PGA Tour groove. Multiple injuries over the course of the last decade have dealt mighty blows to Tiger’s ever-so-fleeting chase toward Jack Nicklaus’ 18 majors (Tiger has won 14).
Simply put, if the 39-year-old Tiger is going to make another run at Nicklaus’ record, he’s going to have to get significant, injury-free playing time in.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open could also be just what Tiger needs to get back on the right track. With crowds estimated to top over half-a-million spectators this year, they’ll be no lack of cheers and enthusiasm coming from the stands.
Plus it doesn’t hurt that Super Bowl XLIX will be kicking off just a few miles away after the three-day golf tournament is slated to end – which was perhaps the only persuasion the Big Cat needed to make the trip in the first place.
Tiger is set to tee time off Thursday with fellow golfers Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed at 12:07 MT in the desert.