First, he has reportedly committed to competing this year, according to Mark Soltau of Woods' official website:
Tiger Woods has committed to play in THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass (THE PLAYERS Course) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., next week. Tiger won the event in 2001 and was runner-up in 2000.
Even though this is not a major tournament, the Players Championship is one of the better competitions around. Unfortunately for Woods, he has not fared well of recent.
Despite finishing at minus-one in 2012, Woods placed tied for No. 40, which was 12 strokes out of first.
So, rewind back to the 2009 season and that's where Woods last performed well at the Players Championship. Taking eighth that year, Woods shot 283 overall to finish at minus-five. It remains his best outing in Ponte Vedra Beach since winning the tournament in 2001.
Woods is also being chased by Brandt Snedeker, who has placed in the top three in four of his last five tournaments. Snedeker even finished minus-four (tied for 6th place) at the 2013 Masters, which immediately displayed his full potential.
Elsewhere near the top, Matt Kuchar is a dangerous foe.
He placed 8th in Augusta, has been inside the top 10 over his past two tournaments and won the Players Championship last year. Another victory for him in 2013 simply builds more confidence leading into the U.S. Open.
Mesh all that with Woods' recent struggles at TPC and 2013 will be tougher to close out at No. 1 overall than expected. On the other hand, playing well this season in response to his prior outings, and Woods will remain No. 1.
Now he doesn't need to completely smash the competition next week, but finishing outside of the top 20 will be disappointing—and especially after he slid inside the top five at the Masters.
The Players Championship is just a stepping stone en route to overcoming his current slump in major events. A strong showing here just allows Woods to enter the U.S. Open with immense confidence.
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