Masters champion Tiger Woods limiting schedule, putting stop in Detroit in doubt

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Tiger Woods won the Masters on Sunday for the first time since 2005.

Tiger Woods, fresh off his captivating performance Sunday in capturing his fifth Masters championship, says he's not going to play as much this summer as he did last summer.

That could spell bad news for organizers of Detroit's first PGA Tour stop, the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which is holding out hope he'll headline the inaugural field.

Last season after the Masters, Woods played in 12 more tournaments, and all but three of them were either major championships, World Golf Championships or PGA Tour playoff tournaments.

Those three were the Wells Fargo Championship in May, the Memorial (Jack Nicklaus' tournament) in June and the Quicken Loans National in July. After Sunday's Masters victory, Woods told reporters he played in some of those tournaments so he could compile performances that would qualify him for WGC or playoff events.

"I'm not going to play as much as I did last year," Woods said in his post-round press conference. "I played a little bit too much last year.

"I'm going to play a little bit less than I did last year."

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Woods, 43, now at 15 majors and counting following his first major-championship win in more than a decade, hasn't announced his playing schedule moving forward, though a look at the PGA Tour's schedule would tell you a lot.

He will play the PGA at Bethpage in May, the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June, the British Open at Royal Portrush in July and the WGC event in Memphis, Tenn., in later July, and then almost certainly the three FedEx Cup playoff events in August. That brings us to seven tournaments.

Woods almost certainly will play once between now and the PGA, and the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina in early May is the favorite. He's a regular participant at Nicklaus' Memorial in Ohio, set for late May to early June, which should serve as his tuneup for the U.S. Open. That brings us to nine tournaments.

Assuming Woods plays once between the U.S. Open and the British Open, there are four tournaments he can choose from, including Detroit's Rocket Mortgage Classic, set for June 27-30 at Detroit Golf Club. The Detroit tournament comes two weeks after the U.S. Open, and three weeks before the British Open. Or he could do what many pros have done in the past, play the Scottish Open the week before the British Open.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is taking the place of The National, long held in suburban Washington, D.C., and long a stop for Woods, as his charity was the primary beneficiary. The Rocket Giving Fund will be the primary charity for the Rocket Mortgage Classic, brought to the area after years of strong-arming of the PGA Tour by Quicken Loans' founder and Detroit mega-booster Dan Gilbert.

Woods, of course, is familiar with golf in Michigan, having been a regular at the Buick Open at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, before that tournament folded amid the near-collapse of the automobile industry in 2009. Woods often was contractually obligated to participate, given he was a paid pitchman for General Motors for nine years, until General Motors cut ties in 2008. Woods still played the final Buick Open in '09, and won.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic has yet to announce any formal commitments to its inaugural tournament, though Rickie Fowler, a Rocket Mortgage spokesman, is in and said last week he is working to recruit some of his fellow big-named golfers to Detroit.

Tournament organizers said they expected player-commitment announcements to start rolling in shortly after the Masters. Tournament officials didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from The News on Monday.

"Playing the tournaments I do play in," said Woods, "I'll be fully invested in and committed to playing and trying to win."

Twitter: @tonypaul1984