Woods' latest statement on game, injuries leaves more questions
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — If PGA Tour fans were stunned by the pushed drives, fat wedges, bladed pitch shots and series of bogeys that served as lowlights for Tiger Woods in the past two weeks, apparently he feels similarly. The former World No. 1 indicated Wednesday that it's possible he could bypass the Honda Classic in two weeks because of the poor state of his play.
"It's a tournament in my hometown and it's important to me," Woods said via Twitter and on his website, "but I won't be there unless my game is tournament-ready."
Woods shot 73-82 to miss the cut two weeks ago at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and last week withdrew 12 holes into his first round at the Farmers Insurance Open. It wasn't the way he envisioned starting a season after having been sidelined for four months after an injury-plagued 2014 season. But in the brief statement, Woods said his golf needs improving, and he seemed to indicate that his life does, too.
"Right now, I need a lot of work on my game, and to still spend time with the people that are important to me," he said. "My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf."
Immediately, interpretations were made that Woods was taking a leave of absence, but never in the release did he say that. In fact, he never said he was officially not playing the Honda.
"I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level," he said, "and when I think I'm ready, I'll be back. Next week I will practice at Medalist (a golf course near his home in Jupiter, Fla.) and at home getting ready for the rest of the year. I am committed to getting back to the pinnacle of my game."
He added that he would "like to play the Honda Classic," but conceded that if he's still playing the way he played at TPC Scottsdale and Torrey Pines, it might not make sense.
"That's not fair to anyone. I do, however, expect to be playing again very soon."
All in all, it seemed to be a rather confounding statement, one that was hardly definitive, nor did it go into details about "this latest injury" that he mentioned. Woods had a microdiscectomy last March and was still laboring when he tried to play at the PGA Championship in August. He went back to the sidelines, but pronounced himself as fit and ready for tournaments in Scottsdale, Arizona, and San Diego.
He indicated after withdrawing at the Farmers that it was a back issue, though when he uttered the infamous "my glutes are shutting off ... I tried to activate my glutes as best I could, but just they never stayed activated," there was widespread ridicule.
No one seemed to know what he was talking about, and his statement Wednesday didn't help clear things up.
"The last two weeks have been very disappointing to me, especially Torrey, because I never want to withdraw. Unfortunately, lately injuries have made that happen too often," Woods said. "This latest injury is not related to my previous surgery. I am having daily physical therapy and I am feeling better every day."
If Woods, who has slipped to 62nd in the world, were to skip the Honda, he definitely would not be eligible for the following week's World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship.
But wherever this story leads, one thing is for sure: This is not the Tiger Woods whom his fiercest competitors have been facing for 18 years. One of them, Ernie Els, could only shake his head Wednesday at Pebble Beach, where he's entered into the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
"As competitive as we are, we don't want to see anyone suffer like (this)," Els said. "If you miss a putt or if you miss a tee shot, that's part of the game. But you don't want to see one of the best players ever go through a period like this. It's tough to watch."
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