NEW YORK • Since his stunning Masters win in April, not a lot has been seen of Tiger Woods.
The elusive Tiger act has happened for a couple of reasons. Changes to the Majors schedule and an attempt to keep his four-time surgically repaired back healthy have kept him out of competition for long stretches.
He has played in just four tournaments since the Masters:
• Missed the cut in the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in May
• Tied for ninth at the Memorial
• Tied for 21st in the US Open at Pebble Beach
• Missed the British Open cut at Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland
The American has not played since being cut at six over at the British Major won by the Irishman Shane Lowry last month.
He is back this week for the Northern Trust Open, the first tournament of the FedExCup play-offs, which has been cut to three events from four.
The question is how much does he have left in the tank this season, and how rusty will he be with so few rounds of competitive golf over the past four months?
He is also committed to the second tournament of golf's post-season, the BMW Championship next week, for the top 70 in the standings.
If he plays well enough to be in the top 30, he will make the Tour Championship finale at East Lake, where the crowd went wild last year at his ending a five-year title drought. There will be more at stake this year, with the overall winner's bonus hitting a record US$15 million (S$20.75 million), up from the US$10 million Justin Rose won last year.
At the Northern Trust, Woods will be joined by most of the world's top 125 players, headlined by top-ranked Brooks Koepka and and Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 behind him in the FedExCup standings.
Former No. 1 Woods has a good record at Liberty National in Jersey City, finishing second in the Barclays in both 2009 and 2013. Even at age 43, he is the biggest draw everywhere he plays and will certainly feel the crowd support there.
He is out of Majors this season, but there is another huge milestone he is chasing. His next win would be No. 82, tying him with Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour victories.
All eyes will be on Woods to see if he looks like the Tiger who won the Green Jacket in April or the Tiger who looked overmatched at the British Open.