Why Is Tiger Woods Not Playing In The Players Championship This Year?

Why is Tiger Woods is not playing in the 2024 Players Championship? And why could it mean he never plays in the event again?

Close-up headshot of Tiger Woods at the 2024 Genesis Invitational
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This week's Players Championship will again be taking place without Tiger Woods in the field, but why is the two-time winner not playing at TPC Sawgrass this year?

Woods last took part in The Players back in 2019 when he finished T30, and he has again opted not to tee it up in the PGA Tour's flagship event in what is the final year of his exemption.

Winning his 15th Major at the 2019 Masters gave Woods a five-year pass into The Players, but he has not once taken that up due to his injury problems.

So from now on, under the current criteria Woods would have to win a PGA Tour event, pick up a 16th Major title, or finish in the top 125 of the previous season’s FedEx Cup points list to make a return to The Players.

It makes his decision not to play this week even more of a mystery, as he was expected to include The Players as part of his one tournament a month strategy for the season.

The 48-year-old withdrew from February's Genesis Invitational through illness, but exact details have not been released and his plans for a return are shrouded in secrecy.

Time is now ticking down until The Masters, with Augusta set to be Woods' April tournament stop - but as yet even if he does head down Magnolia Lane he'll do so with just those 24 holes of tournament golf at Riviera under his belt.

Whether Woods has suffered another injury setback or he's just taking his time and targeting The Masters remains to be seen.

His decision to skip The Players this year though could have wider implications for his future involvement in the tournament - as it could mean he's played his last tournament at TPC Sawgrass.

Tiger Woods with the 2013 Players Championship trophy

Tiger Woods with the 2013 Players Championship trophy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There has been talk of a new exemption being introduced for past champions at TPC Sawgrass - but that's not something PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan feels Woods would accept.

Despite the 82-time PGA Tour winner being a major beneficiary of a new exemption, Monahan thinks Woods, who is a Player Director on the PGA Tour’s Policy Board, would be the hardest to convince to take it up.

"I think you all know Tiger well enough to know that he wants to earn his way into every competition," Monahan said. "That's his makeup.

"But I think as you go forward and as you evolve as an organisation and you think about how you serve and satisfy a rabid fan base, those discussions more broadly would likely be held at the policy board meeting, and I'm sure we would have that discussion.

"But he would be the hardest one to convince."

Woods not being in the field this week is also being felt by the players taking part at Sawgrass, with defending champion Scottie Scheffler worrying about how many times he'll be able to play with Tiger in the future.

"I wish I had a crystal ball, and I could tell you how many of those we had left, but anytime I think you get to play with - I mean, he's definitely the best player I've ever seen, and I think he's the best player we've ever had," Scheffler said.

"Anytime you can stand up there and walk alongside him and compete in the same golf tournament as him is really special."

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.