It’s a fortnight since Tiger Woods returned to competition and PGA Tour boss Jay Monahan is continuing to smile as Rory McIlroy this week ends a near five-month PGA Tour absence.
The last time McIlroy competed on the world’s most lucrative golfing stage was last September, with the four-time Major winner finishing near unnoticed and well down the field in the BMW Championship.
It ended a miserable injury-plagued PGA Tour year for McIlroy.
But now, a fully-healed McIlroy, coming off a third and a second placed finish on the European Tour’s ‘Middle East Swing’ , teams up with his father, Gerry in this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the fourth event on the Tour’s ‘West Coast Swing’.
It was at last October’s similarly formatted Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, where he teamed with his father, that McIlroy closed the book on his poorest season in the pro ranks and ended well down the St. Andrews board.
European Tour CEO, Keith Pelley rubbed his hands in glee when McIlroy teed-up in the Middle East and it’s no wonder Monahan is smiling with Tiger Woods all set to play a full schedule and now to be joined by a revitalised McIlroy.
McIlroy is set to contest an unprecedented seven of eight PGA Tour events leading up to the April 5th commencing Masters at Augusta National.
“Rory, like Tiger, brings a great level of excitement to every tournament he plays in,” said Monahan.
“No one wants to see a player struggle and Rory clearly struggled with injury last year but given his results already this year, Rory seems back to his best and that also adds to the excitement.”
“When you sit back, this is a remarkable time in golf as week-in and week-out looking back on the weekends last year there seemed like 12 to 16 players each week in with a chance to win.”
“We are also fortunate as we have so many great personalities, the likes of Rickie Fowler, Justin (Thomas), Brooks (Koepka), Jon Rahm and so many others, and when you add in Rory (McIlroy) and Tiger (Woods) then golf is in a great place.”
“We have seen over recent years a continuation of great golfers stepping forward and there are many more to come and now we have re-introduced Tiger Woods in the equation at the front-end of the year.”
“The level of interest we saw with Tiger returning at the Farmers Insurance Open was very, very high. Now we see this week Rory’s returning and it just a continuation of great interest in the game.”
“I can see the year being nothing but a phenomenal one.”
McIlroy is joined this week at Pebble Beach by the cream of Irish golf including Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Paul Dunne.
Though Dunne will want to forget his maiden appearance in the Pebble Beach missing the cut with scores of 67 and a pair of 76s.