Tiger Woods is skipping Match Play.
The world's most popular golfer announced today that he won't play in the tournament, which begins Feb. 19 at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain. Woods, a three-time Match Play champion, is the third major golfer to bail on Southern Arizona's golf event: Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott have both passed on the head-to-head tournament and the big payday that comes with it. Those who lose in Match Play's first round still walk away with more than $40,000.
Woods is ranked No. 1 in the world, while Scott is No. 2 and Mickelson No. 4. If Match Play were to be held today, Henrik Stenson would have the No. 1 overall seed followed by reigning U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, Zach Johnson and Rory McIlroy.
Match Play executive director Gerald Goodman told the Star today that Woods' loss is "disappointing," but was sympathetic given his long history of playing in Southern Arizona. Woods has played at Dove Mountain every year that he's been healthy up until now.
"We have a lot of great players that have already committed," he said.
Woods said on his website that he had planned to take the week off anyway to travel to the Winter Olympics with his girlfriend, skier Lindsey Vonn. Vonn suffered an injury, however, and neither will go.
"Instead," Woods said. "I'll stay home and prepare for the Florida tournaments."
Woods says he'll play in the Feb. 27 Honda Classic, and at both Doral and Bay Hill.
Though he's widely considered the best match-play golfer in the world, Woods has struggled to get out of the first few rounds in recent years. Charles Howell III eliminated Woods 2 and 1 in the first round of last year's event.
Woods is 33-10 all-time at Match Play. He won the event in 2003, 2004 and 2008.
Woods' decision to skip the event comes at a troubling time for the tournament: Media reports have said the event could move off Dove Mountain after this year.
Read more in Friday's Arizona Daily Star