Tiger Woods Set For Return

By Jay Betsill

Tiger Woods is set to return to professional golf this week at the Hero World Challenge, the 18-player event at Albany in the Bahamas.

Woods, whose Tiger Woods Foundation is the event’s charitable beneficiary along with the Tavistock Foundation and Albany Scholars Program, is a five-time winner of the tournament when it was held at Sherwood Country Club.

This will be the first time Tiger has teed it up since the 2015 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC.

The field of 18 PGA TOUR players is invited as follows: the current four major championships winners, the top 11 players available from the Official World Golf Ranking as of Sept. 26, 2016 (following the TOUR Championship), the defending champion and two special-exemption players.

This year’s star-studded field is: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Patrick Reed, defending champion Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar, Russell Knox, Brandt Snedeker, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, J.B. Holmes, Emiliano Grillo, Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson.

Since the last time Woods played on the PGA Tour, Nike has announced it was leaving the golf equipment business, essentially meaning he can play with any equipment he so desires.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Tiger will have a new sponsor on his bag this week. Woods will debut a Monster Energy logo on his bag at the Hero World Challenge, making it only the seventh different company to appear on Tiger’s bag in his career joining Titleist, Buick, AT&T, Nike, Fuse Science and MusclePharm.

According to Rovell, MusclePharm disclosed in SEC filings that it paid Woods $7 million for the honor and that it had paid him $2.5 million this past summer to get out of the deal early (it was set to run through 2018).

While it sounds like Tiger will continue to use Nike irons as he explores other equipment options, ESPN’s Bob Harig reported that Woods will play the Bridgestone ball in the Bahamas.

Past winners of the Hero World Challenge are:
2015 – Bubba Watson; Albany, New Providence, The Bahamas
2014 – Jordan Spieth; Isleworth Golf and Country Club, Windermere, Fla.
2013 – Zach Johnson; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2012 – Graeme McDowell; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2011 – Tiger Woods; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2010 – Graeme McDowell; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2009 – Jim Furyk; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2008 – Vijay Singh; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2007 – Tiger Woods; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2006 – Tiger Woods; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2005 – Luke Donald; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2004 – Tiger Woods; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2003 – Davis Love III; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2002 – Padraig Harrington; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2001 – Tiger Woods; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
2000 – Davis Love III; Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
1999 – Tom Lehman; Grayhawk Golf Club, Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Hero World Challenge will be broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC Sports.

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