The last time Tiger Woods teed-up at the Sherwood Hills club was seven years ago when a record of nearly 25,000 spectators poured into the golf course located in Santa Monica hills to the north-west of L. A.
I recall, on a few visits to Sherwood, where the hit TV series MASH was filmed, the houses lining the course being nearly fully donned with very elaborate Christmas decorations.
The decorations had been in place since the then second edition of the Williams World Challenge moved to the course in December 2000 with all 14 editions of the event held early in December and just a few weeks out from Christmas.
The same decorations, no doubt, had been retrieved from the garage and were on view when I reported on Graeme McDowell brilliantly beating Woods in a play-off in the 2010 event and then again in 2012 when GMac won for a second time.
On that final day in 2013, a crowd of 24,922, a record for any round in 14 years at Sherwood crammed every viewpoint to follow Woods.
Those striving to get to the course produced an L.A. freeway type traffic jam as they sought to get a last chance in seeing Woods on the southern California course.
Woods totally dominated Sherwood winning first in 2001 and then again in 2004, 2006, 2007 and in 2011.
He was also runner-up to Davis Love III in 2000 and 2003, second to Padraig Harrington in 2002, and to McDowell, as mentioned above, in 2012, while a year later Zach Johnson came from four shots back in 2013 to beat Woods in a play-off.
So, in 13 starts at Sherwood Country Club Woods has won five times and was runner-up five times.
And now the 15-time Major champ has returned.
“First off, the fact that we’re able to have this championship, it was a big thing for the Tour and a big bonus for all of us to be able to have this opportunity. It’s awesome for us to be able to come back here to Sherwood,” said Woods.
“It’s a golf course I know well and have had my tournament here for a number of years. I think that having it here and having ZOZO come to America and have it come to this venue in particular is fantastic for all of us.
“Well, the shape of the golf course hasn’t changed, but the greens have changed since the last time I’ve played. They’re a little bit flatter, a little bit bigger.
“Some of the contours are gone and so it’s — it was a bit different. It’s on the softer side, and I think that some of the redesign that they’ve done here and the redo has made this golf course certainly more member-friendly and I think that the scores will be awfully low this week.”
Woods will play the opening two rounds of the rescheduled Zozo in the company of the opening two rounds in the company of Matt Wolff and Xander Schauffele.