AUSTIN, Texas — The prospect of doubtless enjoying seven rounds in 5 days is outweighed for Tiger Woods by the accomplishment of qualifying for the WGC-Dell Applied sciences Match Play Championship once more and having to play towards solely a single competitor.
For the primary time since 2013, Woods, 43, is competing within the Match Play, an occasion he has gained thrice when it was performed utilizing a distinct format.
Now within the fifth yr utilizing a pool system that ensures three matches, Woods will face reigning PGA Tour rookie of the yr Aaron Smart, 22, on Wednesday in a match that begins at 2 p.m. ET. He then goes towards Brandt Snedeker on Thursday and Patrick Cantlay on Friday.
Tiger Woods will face Patrick Cantlay, Brandt Snedeker and Aaron Smart this week through the WGC-Dell Applied sciences Match Play Championship, his first expertise within the new format.
“I actually have not performed an entire lot of match play since 2013 and I am trying ahead to it,” stated Woods, who performed within the Presidents Cup that yr and within the 2018 Ryder Cup — his solely match play alternatives since.
“I am trying ahead to the truth that I simply get to concentrate on one man. Each shot is totally different, and you do not actually care what the remainder of the sector is doing. I simply must beat the man standing in entrance of me.”
The highest-ranked participant in his group, Woods — now 14th on the earth however 13th for the needs of this occasion — must have one of the best file among the many 4 gamers with a purpose to advance to Saturday’s spherical of 16.
From there, it’s single elimination, with the opportunity of two matches on Saturday and two on Sunday.
Woods’ first opponent, Smart, gained the Byron Nelson Championship final yr for his lone PGA Tour victory and was the 2016 NCAA particular person champion at Oregon — enjoying for a former Woods faculty teammate, Casey Martin. Woods gained the 1996 particular person title at Stanford just some weeks earlier than Smart was born.
“Hopefully I can play nicely sufficient to get to that time to the place I am within the finals,” Woods stated. “It is totally different as a result of [the old format] was both win or go residence. This round-robin format being right here for 3 days is just a little bit totally different. Additionally the very fact there is not any 36-hole last [discounted after 2010] is just a little bit totally different for me in any case.
“So this can be a new occasion, a brand new format for me. However nonetheless win six matches [to get to the final] and you’re good to go.”
Woods final certified for the Match Play in 2014, however skipped the occasion. He misplaced within the first spherical to Charles Howell III in 2013, one in every of thrice he was bounced from the occasion on the primary day.
Within the following years, he was not ranked excessive sufficient to be eligible — or was not enjoying anyway because of the again surgical procedures that stalled his profession.
Woods earned his approach again by climbing the Official World Rating final yr.
“The top of final yr gave me lots of confidence that I performed as many occasions as I did to the top of the season,” he stated. “I used to be drained, however my physique held up. In order that’s one thing that is been superb. My coaching has been fairly good. My neck has been feeling higher, which is good.
“And so I’ve to play nicely and beat the man in entrance of me with a purpose to have that scenario the place I am there on Sunday within the finals. So there’s lots of work to be completed between every now and then.”
Woods has performed simply 4 tournaments in 2019, with a tie for 20th on the Farmers Insurance coverage Open, a tie for 15th on the Genesis Open, a tie for 10th on the WGC-Mexico Championship and a tie for 30th on March 17 on the Gamers Championship.
As a consequence of neck stiffness, Woods skipped one other event he had entered, the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Woods was contemplating enjoying final week’s Valspar Championship, the place he tied for second final yr, however selected the WGC-Match Play partially resulting from all of the perks — world rating factors and FedEx factors — and to play a event two weeks forward of the Masters.
Earlier than that, Woods faces the potential of lots of golf if he’s profitable.
“It will likely be new for me,” he stated. “Once I’m at residence, I am in a cart on flat floor, and you can play 36 holes in three and a half hours. So it is just a little bit totally different. And this not a flat golf course. So there’s going to be lots of fascinating lies and shapes. It is a good stroll.”