His back willing, Tiger Woods plans to be among the galaxy of golf stars who tee it up in the BMW Championship at Medinah’s Course No. 3 next week.
Also expected in the 70-player field are the world’s No. 1 player, four-time major winner Brooks Koepka; past BMW champions Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and defending champion Keegan Bradley; plus U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and British Open champion Shane Lowry.
The BMW will be played Thursday through Aug. 18, with practice rounds Tuesday and Wednesday at venerable Medinah. Ticket information and schedule details are available at bmwchampionship.com.
Given Woods’ long list of injuries, notably the spinal fusion he underwent two years ago, and his age — he’ll be 44 on
Dec. 30 — it’s fair to wonder how many more appearances he will make in Chicago.
Woods, in the field by virtue of his lone win this season at the Masters, said he is hopeful to play at Medinah despite pulling out of the Northern Trust on Friday.
“Due to a mild oblique strain that led to pain and stiffness, I have to withdraw from The Northern Trust,” Woods said in a statement released by the PGA Tour. “I went for treatment early Friday morning, but unfortunately I’m still unable to compete.”
Woods, playing in only his second tournament since the U.S. Open in June, opened with a 4-over 75 on Thursday on a Liberty National course so soft that only one other player had a higher score. It was his second-worst score in 89 rounds in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, said they will evaluate the situation early next week before deciding whether Woods is physically able to play in the BMW.
The BMW Championship will be at Olympia Fields in 2020, but its name is to be determined because the German carmaker is ending its sponsorship. Woods being in the field also is in question because of his physical issues.
Chicago has been Woods’ kind of town over the years. He has won the BMW, previously known as the Western Open, five times (1997, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2009). He also has won two of his 15 majors, the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championships, at Medinah. That’s seven of his 81 PGA tour wins.
Woods, who won the Tour Championship in Atlanta last fall, is the defending champion in this year’s season-ending three-event Tour Championship. Medinah is the second leg, between this weekend’s Northern Trust and the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.
The FedExCup has been moved up a month, from September to August, as the PGA Tour ends its season earlier to avoid competing with the NFL. It also has been shortened from four tournaments to three, with Boston not making the cut.
Bradley won the BMW last year, shooting a final-round 64 and defeating Justin Rose in a playoff. That tournament was held at Aronimink, in suburban Philadelphia.
The last time Bradley played at Medinah, he was a member of the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team, which blew a big lead in the Sunday singles matches and lost to Europe.
“When I think back to the Ryder Cup of Medinah, it’s probably the most fun time I’ve ever had playing the game of golf,’’ said Bradley, who went 3-1 paired with Phil Mickelson before losing his singles match to McIlroy. “Every single second was fun, exciting. The adrenaline rush of being there and in a Ryder Cup. Sunday didn’t go the way we wanted, but other than that, it was as much fun as I’ve ever had on a golf course.’’
Despite the disappointing loss, that Ryder Cup was a great showcase for Medinah, which drew huge, raucous crowds. The northwestern suburban club, which also has hosted three U.S. Opens, figures to see plenty of drama at this year’s BMW.
Given Woods’ status as golf’s biggest star and the game’s most accomplished player since Jack Nicklaus, the whole golf world will be watching.
Follow me on Twitter @HerbGould and at TMGcollegesports.com.
Who: The top 70 players in the PGA Tour FedExCup standings, including 2019 major winners Tiger Woods (Masters), Brooks Koepka (PGA Championship), Gary Woodland (U.S. Open) and Shane Lowry (British Open).
When: Thursday through Aug. 18.
Where: Medinah Country Club, Course No. 3.
Par: 72. Yardage: 7,657.
On TV: Thursday: 2 p.m. (TGC); Friday: 2 p.m. (TGC); next Saturday: 11 a.m (TGC), 2 p.m. (Ch. 5); Aug. 18: 11 a.m. (TGC), 1 p.m. (Ch. 5).
Last year: Keegan Bradley beat Justin Rose in a sudden-death playoff at Aronimink Golf Club in Newton Square, Pennsylvania.
Next year: At Olympia Fields Country Club.