Woods will skip Honda Classic, chase 9th Palmer Invitational crown

Tiger Woods is an 8-time winner at the Palmer Invitational host course Bay Hill. (AFP pic)

MIAMI: Tiger Woods will be chasing a PGA Tour record ninth Arnold Palmer Invitational title when he tees it up at Bay Hill next month, confirming Thursday he will play there after skipping the Honda Classic.

Woods is an eight-time winner at the Palmer Invitational host course Bay Hill. He and Sam Snead – who won eight Greater Greensboro Open titles – have won the same event so many times.

Woods, playing this week at the WGC-Mexico Championship, tweeted the expected news that he would sit out next week’s Honda Classic near his home in Jupiter, Florida, after playing back-to-back weeks in Los Angeles and Mexico City.

“Unfortunately, due to the schedule this year, I cannot play all the events I want to,” Woods tweeted. “I will be taking next week off and playing in the @APinv and @THEPLAYERSChamp.

“Sorry to miss seeing Jack (Nicklaus) and everyone at Honda.”

Since opting to make his first competitive start in Mexico, Woods has wrestled with his plans for the four tournaments following in Florida.

With his eyes firmly on the first major of the year, the Masters at Augusta National in April, the 43-year-old Woods said he needed to find the right balance of competitive rounds and rest.

Returning to Bay Hill, where he has won eight times and finished equal fifth last year when he was still in the early stages of his return from spinal fusion surgery, makes plenty of sense.

In four starts as a professional at the Honda Classic he has never won.

“I always love playing at Bay Hill,” Woods said in a statement. “I have such great memories of Arnold and am happy to be back for the 19th time.

“Of course, it would be great to win and set a new record, but that’s for me to do on the course.”

Woods still hasn’t confirmed whether he will play in the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook in Florida, the week after the Players Championship.

He made his debut there last year and nearly won, but this year he will be qualified for the WGC-Match Play the following week and could opt to play there instead rather than pile up multiple weeks.

“It gets very complicated,” Woods said Wednesday of his Florida options.