Sports

We can’t stop watching Tiger Woods. Here’s your chance to catch him in person

Fans are expected to pack the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor as 14-time major champion Tiger Woods makes his debut at the Valspar Championship.
Fans are expected to pack the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor as 14-time major champion Tiger Woods makes his debut at the Valspar Championship. AP

Whether you enjoy fast cars or a walk down the fairway, the Tampa Bay area has your sporting fix this weekend with a jam-packed schedule.

Tiger Woods’ announcement last week that he was playing in the PGA Tour’s annual stop in Pinellas County sparked an increase in ticket sales for the Valspar Championship, which runs Thursday-Sunday at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.

That tournament, the Firestone Grand Prix and baseball spring training highlight the Bradenton Herald’s best bets for sporting events to see this weekend.

Let’s begin:

Valspar Championship

The PGA Tour event got a boon when former world No. 1’s Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy decided to play, but Woods’ decision to play only amplified interest surrounding the closest PGA Tour event for Manatee County golf fans to attend this year.

Tickets are $39-$79 for single-day admission and can be bought at valsparchampionship.com and participating Publix locations. Parking is $10 at three different areas (Joseph L. Carwise Middle School, Palm Harbor University High School and the southeast corner of Keystone Road and East Lake Road South). It’s $15 for parking at St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs campus, but that must be purchased in advance.

The Tiger Effect is certainly hitting Florida’s west coast after Woods made his announcement. Tournament officials are expecting 30,000 or more people each day of the tournament and have added 10,000 extra parking spots, 90 more portable toilets, an additional admission gate and 30 more buses to shuttle fans to and from the tournament venue, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Firestone Grand Prix

So you don’t fancy the slower-paced sport of golf in the Tampa Bay area? Instead, you’re down for some speed.

Well, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg might be your fix.

Sebastien Bourdais
Sebastien Bourdais celebrates with his crew in Victory Lane after winning the 2017 IndyCar Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Terry Renna AP

The annual IndyCar race takes place Friday-Sunday in downtown St. Petersburg. The main event begins at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets range from $20 for a single-day admission to $135 for a three-day pass.

Sebastien Bourdais won the 2017 IndyCar season opener on the streets of downtown St. Pete.

For more information, visit gpstpete.com.

Spring training

If you don’t want to make the trip to either of the events in Pinellas County, fans can stick to Bradenton or Sarasota for spring training games this weekend.

Pirates at LECOM
Fans of all ages can enjoy the action at LECOM Park in Bradenton as the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Detroit Tigers on Thursday and the Atlanta Braves on Saturday. Tiffany Tompkins ttompkins@bradenton.com

The Pittsburgh Pirates play a split-squad game against the Atlanta Braves at Bradenton’s LECOM Park on Saturday. They also travel to Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium for a split-squad game with the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Both are scheduled for a 1:05 p.m. start.

On Thursday, the Pirates face the Detroit Tigers at LECOM Park in a 1:05 p.m. game.

Tickets for spring training games at LECOM range from $18 to $32 and can be purchased at the LECOM Park box office or online at mlb.com/pirates/tickets/spring-training.

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