The withdrawal came as a small surprise to most, but wasn’t overwhelmingly shocking considering Tiger has proclaimed throughout his time off that he would not return until he felt his game was ready; clearly that time is not now.
Two-time major winner and NBC/Golf Channel commentator Johnny Miller never believed that Tiger would return this week and said as much during an interview during the Safeway Open.
“You know, he was getting out of that cart pretty gingerly (at the Ryder Cup). Nobody talked about that,” Miller said. “When he got in and out of that cart, he was a little – he didn’t look like he was jumping out and saying, ‘Hi, guys.’ So I’m not so sure how healthy he really is.”
“I had so many texts saying, ‘Congratulations, Tiger’s coming.’ And I would reply every time like, ‘Yeah, it’s great, but I’ll believe it when he’s actually putting the peg in the ground Thursday morning, and is ready to go and hits a shot and is not grimacing,'” Miller said. “So I wasn’t convinced that he was going to actually tee it up. I wanted to believe it, but my intuition said I’ll believe it when it happens.”
“I think he needs to have realistic goals and build his confidence,” Miller said. “Your psyche and your confidence are so fragile, and he just doesn’t have anything to fall back on except for old memories. It’s tough.”
Jesper Parnevik was quoted in Golf Digest as saying he saw Tiger at Medalist “pounding it a miles and flushing everything.” Parnevik clarified those quotes to ESPN’s Bob Harig saying he saw Tiger hitting balls in May:
“I had seen him practicing,” Parnevik said from the this week’s Champions Tour event in Raleigh, N.C. “I thought his swing was great. With all the injuries he had been through, his back, he looked really good. But I never saw him all summer.”
“I wish I had more to update,” Parnevik said. “But it was an old quote.”
Personally, I believe Tiger spent time watching the best, including Phil Mickelson who is almost seven years older than Tiger, smash it around Hazeltine at the Ryder Cup and realized he isn’t ready to play with these guys.
Tiger also won’t play in the Turkish Airlines Open, but has said he still plans to play at the Hero World Challenge in December.