Tiger Woods, coming off a great 2012 season and an early 2013 victory at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, has committed to compete in the 2013 Honda Classic, a PGA TOUR event that will be played February 25-March 3 at PGA National Resort & Spa.
Woods' appearance at The Honda Classic, a tournament just 20 minutes from his Jupiter Island home, will mark a return to the place where he made a frantic charge last year (an eight-under par 62 on Sunday) at eventual champion Rory McIlroy before finishing second.
"I'm excited to be playing the Honda Classic again," Woods said. "It's a really good tournament, and it does a lot for the community. I like the golf course, and I came pretty close last year. It's part of a busy stretch for me, and I want to continue playing well."
Woods' return to PGA National is a continued huge endorsement for The Honda Classic, which has steadily been rising in stature with TOUR players since its move to PGA National in 2007.
McIlroy and Justin Rose, currently ranked No. 1 and 5 in the world, are already part of an international field that also includes No. 6 Louis Oosthuizen, No. 8 Lee Westwood, No. 12 Jason Dufner, No. 15 Keegan Bradley, No. 16 Charl Schwartzel, No. 19 Graeme McDowell, No. 20 Peter Hanson, No. 23 Bo Van Pelt and No. 25 Ernie Els, the British Open champ.
Other notables in the early field include Rickie Fowler, Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Stuart Cink, Erik Compton, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas and Mark Wilson.
"We obviously are thrilled to have Tiger Woods return to The Honda Classic," Honda Classic Executive Director Ken Kennerly said. "We have worked tirelessly for the past six years to make this an elite event on the PGA TOUR and the presence of the top players has allowed us to reach even higher than we ever thought imaginable.
"The sharp rise in our charitable contributions in 2012 was a testament to how powerful Tiger's presence is for the select tournaments that he chooses to play. We are humbled that he has chosen to return to The Honda and look forward to another great Tiger battle with our defending champion Rory McIlroy and the other top players in the world."
It was no surprise when Woods kicked off his PGA TOUR season with a victory at Torrey Pines, a course where he has won eight times. To understand how impressive that number is, understand that only 11 active golfers have won anywhere more than eight times.
"It's nice to be healthy to be able to train and practice and do all of the things that I know I can do," Woods said in San Diego. "It's definitely a very different feeling. Yeah, just improving what I'm doing. Becoming more efficient with what I'm doing. I would have to say the majority of the year last year I hit it pretty good, but my putting and short game weren't quite there. I spent so much time on ball striking that that finally came around.
"So towards the end of the season, I was able to spend more time with my chipping and putting and that's come around. So now I've got to marry up both of those two combos and hopefully I can do it this year and do it on a consistent basis."
His game might not have been perfect last year, but Woods won three times - at Bay Hill, the Memorial and at the AT&T National.
Now 37, Woods has had an unprecedented career since becoming a professional golfer in the late summer of 1996. He has won 100 tournaments, 74 of those on the PGA Tour, including the 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005 Masters Tournaments, 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007 PGA Championships, 2000, 2002, and 2008 U.S. Open Championships, and 2000, 2005 and 2006 Open Championships. With his second Masters victory in 2001, Tiger became the first ever to hold all four professional major championships at the same time.
In winning the 2000 British Open, Woods became the youngest to complete the career Grand Slam of professional major championships and only the fifth ever to do so, following Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. Woods also was the youngest Masters champion ever, at the age of 21 years, three months and 14 days, and was the first major championship winner of African or Asian heritage.
Woods holds or shares the record for the low score in relation to par in each of the four major championships. His records are 270 (18-under par) in the 1997 Masters, 269 (19-under par) in the 2000 Open Championship, and he shares the record of 270 (18-under par) with Bob May in the 2000 PGA Championship, which Tiger won by one stroke in a three-hole playoff. He held the U.S. Open records of 272 and 12-under par (set in 2000) until 2011.
The U.S. Open and Masters victories came by record margins, 15 strokes and 12 strokes, respectively, and the U.S. Open triumph swept aside the 13-stroke major championship standard which had stood for 138 years, established by Old Tom Morris in the 1862 British Open. The record margin for the U.S. Open had been 11 strokes by Willie Smith in 1899. In The Masters, Woods broke the record margin of nine strokes set by Nicklaus in 1965. Tiger won the Open Championship by eight strokes, the largest margin since J. H. Taylor in 1913.
He is the career victories leader among active players on the PGA Tour and is the career money list leader. In 2012, he passed Jack Nicklaus for second in PGA Tour career victories (74) and now trails only Sam Snead (82). Tiger increased his record total on the PGA Tour career money list to $100,850,700 through 2012 and had won $123,010,092 worldwide.94,817,542 through 2011, and had won $115,618,045 worldwide.
"Every year this tournament has gotten better and better," Kennerly said. "Now the fans of South Florida and Palm Beach and Martin counties have the chance to come watch Tiger compete live against the other top players in the world. We are looking forward to another great event."
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