[PHOTO: David Rosenblum]

Tiger Woods is not in this week’s Players Championship.

In itself, that Woods’ name was not in the PGA Tour’s flagship event is hardly a shock. He has not played at TPC Sawgrass since 2019, and in his five previous Players starts had just one top-10 finish. It’s also one of the harder venues on the tour and one no longer conducive to Woods’ strengths.

Conversely, Woods is a two-time Players champion, and had a chance to play through the exemption earned from his 2019 Masters victory. He signalled in December that he planned on adhering to a once-a-month playing cadence for 2024, giving belief that he’d return to Sawgrass. But with the Masters less than a month away, Woods, 48, has made just one start this season. The 15-time major winner played one round at the Genesis Invitational last month before pulling out of the tournament mid-round on the second day due to illness. Woods is coming off an abbreviated 2023 season, when he made only two appearances before undergoing ankle surgery. He has played all four rounds of an official tournament just twice in the past four years.

Should Woods want to make an appearance before Augusta National, the next possible tour stops would be the Valspar Championship, which begins on March 21. It is unlikely Woods would make a return to the remaining tour events in Houston and San Antonio prior to the Masters.

The 2024 Players begins on March 14. Scottie Scheffler is the defending champion.