Tiger to skip Honda Classic, return for Bay Hill and Players

Tiger to skip Honda Classic, return for Bay Hill and Players
FILE PHOTO: Tiger Woods of the U.S. catches a ball before his putt from his caddie on the second hole in the final round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Tami Chappell Copyright Tami Chappell(Reuters)
Copyright Tami Chappell(Reuters)
By Reuters
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By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - Tiger Woods shed some light on his Masters preparations as he said on Thursday he will skip next week's Honda Classic and return in the first two weeks of March for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship.

Woods, fresh off a tie for 15th place at the Genesis Open on Sunday, announced the decision on Twitter shortly before teeing off in the opening round of the WGC-Mexico Championship, his third PGA Tour event of the season.

"Unfortunately, due to the schedule this year, I cannot play all the events I want to," Woods wrote.

The former world number one is an eight-times winner at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which will be played from March 7-10 at Bay Hill in Orlando.

Woods will then chase a third triumph at the PGA Tour's flagship Players Championship event, which is widely regarded as the unofficial fifth major, when he tees it up at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida from March 14-17.

The Players Championship was moved this year to March after being held in May in the prior 11 years.

Woods had said last year after his comeback season from spinal fusion surgery that he wanted to limit his schedule in 2019 in a bid to remain fresh for the entire campaign, which he admitted was a challenge in 2018.

Woods has never won the Honda Classic in four pro starts and, while the event is a short drive from his Jupiter home, his decision to compete this week made a return to that event doubtful as it would have marked three consecutive weeks of tournament play.

When asked in Mexico ahead of this week's event how many tournaments are in his plans, Woods said it gets complicated.

"That's what I'm trying to figure out, how much to play, how much is too much, how much is not enough, and at the end of the day being race-ready enough for April and making sure I get enough competitive rounds," said Woods.

Now Woods needs to decide where to wrap up his preparations ahead of the April 11-14 Masters.

He finished runner-up last year on his debut at the Valspar Championship, to be held the week after The Players, and his current world ranking would qualify him for the following week's WGC-Dell Match Play in Austin, which is two weeks before the Masters.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto)

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