Tiger Woods, who is now 40, has officially withdrawn from the PGA Championship and will be replaced by Harold Varner III. This is the first time since 1994 that Woods has not played in at least one major championship. He played in the 1995 Masters as a 19-year-old.
The PGA of America issued the following statement on Tiger’s status in the event:
“We have been in contact with Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg, and he informed us today that our four-time PGA Champion will be unable to join us at Baltusrol Golf Club next week for the 98th PGA Championship.”
In an email to Golf Channel, Steinberg said Woods is, “Continuing to make progress.”
“Continuing to make progress, but simply not ready for PGA. Will not play in the ’15/’16 season and will continue to rehab and work hard to then assess when he starts play for the ’16/’17 season.”
Woods has been slowly nursing himself back to health after undergoing multiple back surgeries in 2015. There have been rumors of his poor health and a return all year to which Tiger responded multiple times.
The last time we saw Tiger hitting balls was before the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club where he was the host of the event. The outcome of those three shots was brutal to watch as all three easy wedge shots that he attempted into a 100-yard par-3 found the water.
It’s easy to say that Woods will never return, and he may have alluded to as much in a comment to Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post who asked Woods whether or not he could envision himself returning to Congressional as a host in a role similar to that of Jack Nicklaus at the Memorial.
TW: “Mmmmm-hmmmm,” he said, lips pursed. “Yep.”
Really? How and why?
TW: “Ask me that question later this year,” he said. “I’ll have a different answer.”
TW: “You’ll see,” he said, and he smiled.
Well, it’s “later this year” and Woods has yet to play in any events and won’t, but the fact of the matter is that Woods could and probably will return next season.
Will he win another major? I don’t know–he probably won’t.
Will he win another tournament? I don’t know that either, but I’m not going to be the one that sits here and tells you “there’s no way that Tiger Woods will ever win another major or another tournament,” because golf is a very fickle game.
As we just saw at the 145th Open Championship, Phil Mickelson, at the age of 46, posted a score that would have won the event 141 of the total 145 times it’s been played. Mickelson didn’t win, he lost to another 40-year-old, Henrik Stenson, and the two of them finished 11 strokes ahead of the third place finisher J.B. Holmes who finished only one stroke ahead of 49-year-old Steve Stricker.
Of course the difference between those guys and Tiger is the number of surgeries he’s undergone, but it’s hard to believe a golfer is ever really done with the game until they decide for themselves that is in fact the case and that is exactly what is happening with Woods. If he decides tomorrow that he will never be able to make another cut in a PGA Tour event, then yes, he is done, but if he decides he will try and come back next season when he feels he’ll be as close to 100% healthy as possible, who knows what could happen?
Tom Watson almost won the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry at the age of 59. At the time, Watson hadn’t won a major in 26 years and had an eight-foot putt on the 72nd hole that would have secured himself a victory as the oldest player to ever win a major. Watson lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink, who was 23 years younger.
With golf, nothing is ever really impossible to believe.