Tiger Woods Turns to TaylorMade in Return to Tour at Farmers Insurance Open

Former world number one Tiger Woods, a 14-time major winner, has slid to 898th in the rankings

Tiger Woods may even know more about winning than the orange-haired fellow now occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington D.C.

The 41-year-old golf legend will tee it up Thursday for the first time in 18 months in a PGA Tour tournament at the Farmers Insurance Open. He aims to capture his 80th tournament victory—2nd only to San Snead’s 82 wins— and rekindle his journey to prominence in a sport that he dominated for over a decade starting in 1997.

Woods, hampered by two back surgeries, remained on the sidelines since August 2015 until December, when he competed in his own tournament, the Hero World Challenge. There he finished 15th in a starting field of 18 golfers. Woods showed moments of his old self, capturing the most birdies of all the participants over the four rounds and firing a bogey-free 65 in his Friday round. Nevertheless, a poor showing on Sunday with a disappointing 76 quelled all hopes of a miracle comeback victory for Tiger.

The Farmers will again be played at Torrey Pines in La Jolla CA, a venue where Tiger already has won trophies eight times, including his 14th and last major championship in 2008. There, the second all-time leading major winner —2nd only to Jack Nicklaus with 18—won the US Open defeating Rocco Mediate in a double playoff while hobbling with no ligament and a broken leg. 

Joining Tiger on his Thursday and Friday rounds will be world No. 1 Jason Day and No. 3 Dustin Johnson. Woods will also join them for the first time as fellow TaylorMade golf clubs users. Golf Digest announced on Wednesday that Tiger will jettison his Nike sticks for the ubiquitous TaylorMade clubs as his new weapons of choice.

TaylorMade did not disclose the terms of their deal, reported Golf Digest, but the Southern California native and former Stanford graduate will rely on a Taylor Made driver, fairway woods, irons, and wedges. At the Hero in December, Tiger wielded a TaylorMade M2 driver with a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX shaft set at 9.5 degrees. Reportedly he will use the same at Torrey.

Woods will still wear Nike apparel along with his own TW logo. ESPN reported that TaylorMade representative Jory Mendes explained that the TaylorMade agreement with Woods does not give the golfer any equity in the company. It’s been rumored that Woods is interested in owning a stake in a major golf equipment company.