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Saturday, March 3, 2018

Tiger's Surprise Tour Stop

Unless you were dead most of Friday, you probably heard that Tiger is playing the next two tour stops, the Valspar Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The API was expected, the Valspar wasn't. Tiger has never played the Valspar before, although he did play the Copperhead Course with amateur partner Kelli Kuehne in the JCPenney Classic way back in 1996. They finished second.

Teammates Tiger Woods and Kelli Kuehne in 1996

The good news here for Tiger fans is that Tiger's back appears to be holding up very well -- well enough for him to tee it up four times in five weeks.
The Valspar was prepared for this possibility. reported:
Valspar tournament director Tracy West said she heard from Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, about 30 minutes before the announcement and put into motion a plan that tournament organizers had been working on for weeks just in case the 14-time major champion committed.
Of course, when Tiger shows up, the Tiger factor ramps things up dramatically. The logistics go through the roof! As reported:
Now in her fourth year running the event, West listed off the changes that Tiger's appearance dictates. Valspar organizers will open up two additional parking lots to handle 5,000 to 6,000 more spots. They'll set up more buses, and volunteers to handle those buses and fans at admissions gates. Increased security. More porta-potties. More food (and beverage) orders from caterers and concessionaires. Friday's announcement has organizers ready to see 10,000 or more spectators per day. Tiger changes the game.

Acknowledging her excitement that crowds could potentially sell out the venue, West remained cognizant of the potential for rowdy Tour crowds like those that have come under scrutiny in recent weeks.

"We're not the Phoenix Open," she said. "It's a balance, right? You want as many people to come and see these guys as possible. We don't want to turn people away. However, we don't want to make this something that gets out of control, and we'll make some judgment calls."
Tiger's surprise decision did knock pro Jonathan Randolph out of a spot -- at least temporarily; he's still the first alternate -- but Randolph tweeted:
Note the #ImNotEvenMad hashtag. As noted, the golf world as a whole seems pumped that Tiger may finally be on the way back.

But that wasn't the end of the Valspar's good news. Shortly after the event got Tiger's call, Jordan Spieth confirmed he would show up as well. Add them to Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Sergio and Henrik Stenson -- among others -- and it looks like the Valspar is going to get the top level field they've been praying for.

This is a surprise that seems to have most of the golf world pleased. Now, if the Valspar can just find a way to get Randolph a spot, this will be a win-win for everybody.

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