‘Independent contractor’ Woods brushes aside questions over his schedule
World number one not worried about lack of tournament action ahead of Turkey event
Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during the pro-am ahead of the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Tiger Woods refused to be drawn on questions regarding his schedule as he prepared to play his first competitive golf in over a month at the Turkish Airlines Open this week.
The world number one’s last meaningful action came in the United States’ successful defence of the Presidents Cup at the start of October, since when the 14-time Major winner has elected to collect a sizeable appearance fee for a challenge match with Rory McIlroy in China and make exhibition appearances in Singapore and Macau.
That left no room in his diary for the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai last week – an event co-sanctioned by the game’s major tours and one of four annual World Golf Championships, the tournaments generally regarded as coming second only to Majors in terms of prestige.
“Independent contractor” was the 37-year-old’s blunt response when asked about his scheduling, before adding “that’s it” when pressed on the matter.
However, Woods insists his lack of competitive action will not be a hindrance at the Colin Montgomerie-designed Maxx Royal course this week.
“When I played against Rory, I was a little bit on the rusty side, because I really had not touched a club for a couple of weeks,” he said.
“After the Presidents Cup, I shut it down. I’ve been playing in Singapore and doing some exhibitions there, as well as in Macau, so I’ve been playing a little golf.
“The rust is starting to come off and I’m going to do a little bit of work today.”
Woods is making his second appearance in Antalya, having also featured in an unsanctioned matchplay event last year.
The tournament has enjoyed a lofty promotion for 2013, playing host to the third event of the European Tour’s inaugural final series and offering over €850,000 to the winner.
That could go a long way to determining who wins the Race to Dubai – Woods is ineligible as he is only a member of the US PGA Tour – with Justin Rose and Ian Poulter among those trying to close the gap on current leader Henrik Stenson.
With second-placed Graeme McDowell not playing, the English pair, currently third and fourth in the standings, both have a chance to go top with a win in Antalya, and Rose would relish a battle with his friend at next week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The 33-year-old, who won the exhibition version of this event last year, described becoming European number one in 2007 as his greatest achievement prior to winning the US Open at Merion, but his Ryder Cup team-mate could hold the advantage ahead of the season finale due to a new rule introduced this term.