With each update on the status of Tiger Woods’ ailing back, it is more and more doubtful that the 14-time major title-holder will be healthy enough when the 2014 Masters rolls around on April 10. The latest news from Woods is that he does not know if he will be ready, saying it’s “too soon to tell.”
Woods had to withdraw from the Honda Classic in the final round in early March because of back spasms.He played the next week at the Cadillac Championship at Doral, and even though he got through all four rounds, he was clearly hampered by the pain as he limped in with a 78 in the final round. After taking a week off, Woods was in no shape to play last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and withdrew two days before the start of the tournament.
The Masters is where Woods has won four of his 14 major titles, and the only major tournament he has never missed. But showing up at the Masters is one thing, and winning the Masters is another. Tiger is still in pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors and, even though he has four Masters titles, he has never won at Augusta without winning earlier in the season. Two tournaments, the Valero Texas Open and the Shell Houston Open, remain before the Masters and it is doubtful Woods will be in the field for either of those.
Tiger Woods has not won a major tournament since 2008, and even though he is advising the golf world that he should not be ruled out of the Masters, the fact remains that every day of doubt about his status is another day closer to being a no-show. One has to assume that if Tiger still does not know whether he’s healthy enough to play, he is not healthy enough to practice either. When is the cutoff date? Does he need to feel healthy enough to walk onto the Augusta National golf course on Monday before the Masters, or does he need to feel well enough to get a week of practice in before the tournament? All Tiger could say this week was that it’s still a little too soon to know and, yes, it’s frustrating.
The latest news on his health came from Woods this week as his foundation was announcing a change in sponsorship of his PGA Tour stop in Washington, D.C. What was once the AT&T National will now be called the Quicken Loans National. Woods is also waiting on word from Congressional Country Club on whether they will pick up an option to host the event in 2016, 2018 and 2020. The membership is putting it to a vote and a decision is expected on Sunday. In the meantime Woods’ foundation must find a site for the tournament in 2015, and he wants to keep it in the D.C. area. One of the learning centers for Woods’ foundation is at Quantico, and the center is particularly important to Tiger because of his father’s career in the Special Forces of the US Army. Two of the venues mentioned for next year are TPC Potomac at Avenal and Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky
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