As much as golf fans might not want to hear it, we all have to face the possibility that Tiger Woods will never win another tournament. And that would certainly be unfortunate given the fact that he’s tied with Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour wins of all time with 82.
For years, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Tiger would easily pass Snead, given the rate at which he was winning tournaments, just as it appeared he would easily pass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.
Think about it. At the end of the 2009 season, when he was still just 33, Woods had already won 14 majors and owned 71 PGA Tour victories.
But not long after that 71st victory, which came at the ’09 BMW Championship, Tiger’s personal life spiraled out of control and his golf game suffered because of it. It took him nearly three years to win again, at which point he strung together the last truly incredible run of his career, notching eight victories between 2012 and 2013 to regain the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.
But over the next five years, he underwent multiple surgeries, and it seemed as if his career might be over. Of course, Tiger once again fought back and broke a five-year drought with an emotional victory at the 2018 Tour Championship. Even more improbably, Woods broke a nearly 11-year drought by winning The Masters for the fifth time in 2019.
And six months later, he recorded PGA Tour victory No. 82 with a three-shot win at the inaugural edition of the Zozo Championship.
Tiger failed to finish higher than ninth in any of his nine appearances in 2020 and faced another potential career-ending setback in February 2021, nearly losing his right leg after wrecking his car in California. He returned to play the 2022 Masters, finishing 47th, but withdrew after three rounds at the PGA Championship and missed the cut at The Open Championship at St. Andrews in his only three starts of the year.
Given his health and previous comments he’s made, we already know that Woods will never play a full-time PGA Tour schedule again. And there’s a strong chance that the only time we see him during the 2022-23 season is at the four majors, outside of maybe his Hero World Challenge in December.
But if he plays that event — and he’s left the door open for that to happen — that wouldn’t count as win No. 83 as it’s not a non-official PGA Tour tournament, although it does feature world ranking points.
Given Tiger’s competitive nature, one has to think it’s killing him to be tied with Snead at 82. It likely kills him more that he’s three behind Nicklaus, but you see what I’m getting at.
Now, if Woods only plays the four majors, his chances to get to 83 are obviously smaller than if he played a couple of extra events, tournaments where he’s had previous success and could perhaps legitimately compete if healthy.
So if he added a few extra dates to his schedule, here are the five tournaments (in order on the calendar) where Tiger Woods has the best shots to notch that 83rd PGA Tour win.
Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines
Assuming Tiger again plays the PNC Championship with his son Charlie, which I hope he does as that’s just great television, he’d have a little more than a month to prepare for the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, which begins January 25.
And why the Farmers Insurance Open? Because it’s played at Torrey Pines, where Woods has won eight times as a professional. He first won there as a 23-year-old in 1999 when the tournament was still called the Buick Invitational and won the event six more times, including four in a row from 2005 to 2008.
Tiger also scored one of the most incredible victories of his career at Torrey Pines, famously winning the 2008 U.S. Open with a broken leg.
Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill
Whether he wins the tournament or not, I truly hope Tiger Woods plays the Arnold Palmer Invitational at least one more time before his career is over, as he deserves some sort of tribute or sendoff at that tournament.
Like Torrey Pines, Woods owns eight victories at Bay Hill, so he obviously knows what it takes to win on that golf course. He first won there in 2000, and again like Torrey Pines, reeled off four straight victories there from 2000 to 2003, the last by a whopping 11 strokes.
He went back-to-back in 2008 and 2009, the latter being his first win after coming back from surgery following the ’08 U.S. Open, which was incredibly just his third start upon his return. And Woods again went back-to-back in 2012 and 2013.
The 2023 edition begins on March 2.
The Masters at Augusta National
If healthy, we know Tiger will be in the field for The Masters. And of the four major championships, this is the one that gives him the best chance to win, which he proved in 2019.
Yes, it’s much more difficult for Woods to navigate the hilly terrain at Augusta National these days. But no golfer on the planet knows that golf course better than Woods does.
He may not be able to compete length-wise with some of these young guns, but putting is the name of game at The Masters, and Tiger knows those greens inside and out.
Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village
As the Memorial Tournament at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village begins June 1, exactly two weeks before the start of the 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club, this seems like the least likely event at which Tiger would tee it up.
But if he’s up for it, Woods knows how to win this golf tournament. Tiger took his first title at the Memorial in 1999 and unsurprisingly won the next two as well in 2000 and 2001, when he was essentially unbeatable.
He tacked on a fourth win at Muirfield in 2009 and then a fifth in 2012, tying Nicklaus on the all-time wins list with No. 73. I know the majors are more important to Tiger, but he’s got a better shot here than at the U.S. Open.
And since we’re talking about the majors, the reason I chose not to include the PGA Championship is that the 2023 edition is being played at Oak Hill. Even when healthy, Tiger didn’t fare well at his two previous PGA appearances there, tying for 39th at 12-over in 2003 and tying for 40th in 2013 at 4-over.
The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool
Closing out our list is the 2023 edition of The Open Championship, which will likely be Tiger Woods’ final appearance of the 2022-23 campaign.
The setting for the final major of the year this time around is Royal Liverpool, where Woods captured the most emotional victory of his career in 2006, just over two and a half months following the death of his father, Earl. Tiger shot 18-under that week, beating Chris DiMarco by two strokes.
He certainly didn’t fare quite as well the next time The Open was played there in 2014, finishing 23 strokes behind Rory McIlroy in 69th place. But just like every other course we’ve mentioned, Woods knows how to win at Royal Liverpool. And just as it would be The Masters, getting No. 83 and No. 16 simultaneously would be a pretty sweet package deal.
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