Tiger Woods got a warm reception on a chilly Wednesday morning as he returned to the Farmers Insurance Open for the first time since 2015.
A winner at Torrey Pines Golf Course nine times, Woods wore Nike as usual, but was looking forward to playing with clubs by TaylorMade after announcing a jump to the Carlsbad company.
(He’ll keep using his old Scotty Cameron putter, however.)
Woods took his first practice swings about 6:40 a.m. on the North Course for the pro-am portion of the tournament. The temperature was in the 40s.
The former world No. 1 golfer, now 41 and ranked 663rd, tweeted the endorsement deal: “After several months of testing and all brands to choose from, the choice is clearly @TaylorMadeGolf. Proud to join the family!”
Nike ceased making golf gear, so Woods was coveted by other brands.
TaylorMade said in its announcement: “Tiger will co-create with TaylorMade’s club engineers and have an integral role in the design and development of a new, personalized iron model that will make its debut in Tiger’s bag at a future date to be determined.”
Woods has used TaylorMade before, playing with the local brand’s metal woods in winning the 1994 and 1995 U.S. amateur championships.
“There has been speculation in the industry that Woods would seek an ownership stake in his next equipment company,” ESPN reported. “TaylorMade spokesman Jory Mendes told ESPN’s Darren Rovell that the deal with Woods does not include equity in the company. Mendez said that Adidas, TaylorMade’s parent company, has expressed interest in selling TaylorMade, but no announcements are imminent.”
Tournament director Peter Ripa said tickets sales for the PGA event jumped 20 percent in the 15 hours after Woods announced he would play, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
“Searches for tournament tickets, according to Google Trends, spiked 400 percent in the same time period,” the U-T said.
With three back surgeries behind him, Woods is playing in his first regular-season event since tying for 10th in the Wyndham Championship in August 2015.
Woods will tee off at 10:40 a.m. Thursday on the South Course for Round 1 of the tournament, playing with Dustin Johnson and Jason Day. On Friday, his tee time on the North Course is 9:30 a.m. Complete details are here.
— GolfWRX (@GolfWRX) January 25, 2017
Here’s TaylorMade Golf’s First TV Spot Featuring Tiger Woods https://t.co/F7cHZrfZmg
— BroBible (@BroBible) January 25, 2017
— TaylorMade Golf (@TaylorMadeGolf) January 25, 2017
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 25, 2017