Tiger Woods set for return to action; TV, golf execs rejoice

06/25/2014 6:03 PM

06/25/2014 10:50 PM

Tiger Woods may be coming back from back surgery sooner than he would have liked, but it’s none too soon for television executives and officials with this week’s Quicken Loans National tournament.

Woods admitted at a news conference Tuesday in Bethesda, Md., that he likely wouldn’t have played this week if the PGA Tour event didn’t benefit his Tiger Woods Foundation.

“If this wasn’t the foundation and our impact that we can have with kids, I probably would not,” he said.

Woods’ return likely will result in an increase in golf’s TV ratings. With Woods out of action, this month’s U.S. Open drew a 3.3 rating for the final round, down 46 percent from 2013, when Justin Rose was the winner. The Players Championship in May had a 2.6 rating for the final round, down 54 percent from when Woods won in 2013.

“I think there’s always a fascination in terms of watching Tiger play golf, and the run that he’s been on throughout his career and what he still has to achieve in terms of his goals,” Rose said. “I think golf will get really exciting if he starts winning a couple more majors.”

When Woods, 38, tees off Thursday at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., it will be his first competitive round since March 9, when he tied for 25th place in the Cadillac Championship. Woods had surgery for a pinched nerve in his back March 31.

This is scheduled to be his only start before next month’s British Open.

“Our goal was the British Open,” he said. “I healed extremely fast, thanks to my physios and all the different things that we did and the protocols and the MRIs and all the different steps that we have done along the way that have allowed me to get to this point.”

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Woods said he wouldn’t play this week if he didn’t think he could win. And he thinks he can capture his 15th major championship — three short of Jack Nicklaus’ record — in the British Open, which is set for July 17-20 at Royal Liverpool.

“Expectations don’t change,” Woods said. “That’s the ultimate goal. It’s just that it’s going to be a little bit harder this time. I just haven’t had the amount of prep and reps that I would like.

“But I’m good enough to play, and I’m going to give it a go.”

To reach Tom Smith, call 816-234-4240 or send email to tomsmith@kcstar.com.

Schedule

PGA TOUR: Quicken Loans National. Thursday through Sunday in Bethesda, Md. TV: Golf Channel (Thursday and Friday, 1:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon) and CBS (Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.)

LPGA TOUR: NW Arkansas Championship. Friday through Sunday in Rogers, Ark. TV: Golf Channel (Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 4 p.m.)

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Senior Players Championship. Thursday through Sunday in Pittsburgh. TV: Golf Channel (Thursday and Friday, 11:30 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.)

WEB.COM TOUR: United Leasing Championship. Thursday through Sunday in Newburgh, Ind. TV: Golf Channel (Thursday through Sunday, 6 p.m.)

Players to watch

TOM WATSON

Watson, a Kansas City native, showed that he can still contend in majors when he finished second in last month’s Senior PGA Championship.

TOM PERNICE JR.

Pernice, also a Kansas City native, won the Principal Charity Classic earlier this month on the Champions Tour.

BILL HAAS

Haas, a steady player, is the defending champion at Congressional and should be a threat again this week.

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