A nice birdie-fest – Tiger Woods expecting low scoring Hero World Challenge

Tiger Woods believes the Hero World Challenge will be a low-scoring affair, despite his absence from the elite 20-man field in the Bahamas.

Woods was due to return to action at Albany for the first time since missing the cut in the 150th Open Championship in July, but withdrew on Monday due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

The 15-time major winner also let slip in his Tuesday press conference that he had undergone “a couple of surgeries” this year as a result of competing again following a life-threatening car accident in February 2021, although he declined to reveal any details.

Woods still plans to partner Rory McIlroy in The Match against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas on December 10 and contest the PNC Championship with son Charlie the following week, but for now has to focus on hosting duties at an event which benefits his foundation.

“I’m looking forward to watching these guys play,” Woods said. “The golf course is in amazing shape. I went out and took a look at it, and the golf course is running like it should.

“I think they’ll probably get the greens a little bit faster come tournament days, but other than that, there’s hardly any divots to deal with on the golf course so you’re going to see some low scores here.

“You can’t really hang around making too many pars, you’re going to get left behind. So this can be a nice birdie-fest and should be exciting for all the viewers.”

World number 16 Max Homa was paired with Woods in the first two rounds of the Open at St Andrews and admits he still finds it tough to come to terms with being friends with his childhood hero.

Max Homa
Max Homa, left, partnered Tiger Woods in the first two rounds of the 2022 Open Championship (Jane Barlow/PA)

Homa, who is making his tournament debut this week, said: “It’s still cool. My friend who’s with me asked me if it’s still weird being around Tiger and I would say yes. It’s definitely different.

“I don’t feel like this is the thing that’s making me feel like I belong, I felt like that for quite a while, but it is very cool to be here. This event used to be in my backyard in LA, so we would go (to watch) every year.

“It’s just cool to be able to play an event that is obviously incredibly exclusive, you have to have had a great year, I guess a couple of years world ranking-wise to be here and it feels like a nice reward.”

Norway’s Viktor Hovland will defend the title he won on his tournament debut last year, with Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, US Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick, US PGA champion Justin Thomas and world number five Jon Rahm also in the field.