Tiger Woods will not play the 2023 Players Championship after the 15-time major winner did not commit to the field for next week’s event by the 5 p.m. ET deadline on Friday. Doing so would have meant participating in two events before the 86th playing of the Masters. Technically, Woods could still do that, but it won’t be at TPC Sawgrass just a few weeks after making the cut at his first start of the year at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.
Woods said after finishing T45 at Riviera that he wants to play something around five to seven times a year.
“Like I told you guys last year, I’m not going to play any more than probably the majors and maybe a couple more,” said Woods. “That’s it, that’s all my body will allow me to do. My back the way it is, all the surgeries I had on my back, my leg the way it is, I just can’t. That’s just going to be my future.
“So my intent last year was to play in all four majors, I got three of the four. Hopefully this year I can get all four and maybe sprinkle in a few here and there. But that’s it for the rest of my career. I know that and I understand that. That’s just my reality.”
Though other events could be part of that sprinkle, the Players will not. Woods is a two-time winner at TPC Sawgrass, but he hasn’t played the event since 2019 and hasn’t finished in the top 10 since he won in 2013.
Still, opting into the Players field would have made sense. This is the first Players Championship — the biggest event on the PGA Tour’s schedule as the Tour doesn’t run the major championships — since the top players came together at the end of last summer to formulate a plan to battle the Tour’s new rival, LIV Golf. Tiger and Rory McIlroy were the primary leaders of that crew, and this week will no doubt be part celebration of how well it has gone and part explanation of everything that’s still to unfold.
Tiger’s real quest from a tournament perspective, however, is the Masters. The majors are the only thing that can affect his legacy at this point. He knows that he needs to be sharp and play more often to have even a sliver of a chance to win another one, so it’s telling in terms of his body that he’s sitting this tournament out.
Two starts before April would have been a great outcome for somebody who had to pull out of the Hero World Challenge in December with plantar fasciitis and an even better one for Woods, who played Augusta as his first start in 15 months following the car accident that wrecked his leg in February 2021.
Woods could still play the Valspar Championship or Texas Open, but it is likely that his next start will be on the Thursday of the 2023 Masters at Augusta National.