The end of Tiger Woods’ time on the PGA Tour seems near. Woods underwent two back surgeries in 2015 and sat out the entire 2016 season; when he did return 17 months after his last event, he looked good. Woods turned in some good numbers at the Hero World Challenge in December. He even carded a 65 and appeared to be swinging freely and walking with ease.
Then Woods played in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines where he’d won eight times before. He struggled to find the fairway and ultimately missed the cut. Maybe it was the deep rough that he was constantly hitting out of that eventually led to what happened at his next event or maybe it was the 17 hour non-stop flight to his next event, but something went wrong. During the first round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic Woods appeared to be walking very gingerly. His swing seemed off and he just didn’t look right and prior to the start of the second round he withdrew from the event citing back spasms as the reason.
Woods’ next scheduled event was the Genesis Open, but he withdrew from that and then couldn’t even make it to his press conference despite his company putting on the event and it benefiting his foundation. Woods also withdrew from The Honda Classic and it appeared on the surface that if he were to play in any event prior to the Masters it would be the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
That’s not happening as Woods released the following statement on his website on Thursday:
“Unfortunately, due to ongoing rest and rehabilitation on my back, I won’t be able to play in this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. I’m especially disappointed because I wanted to be at Bay Hill to help honor Arnold. This is one event I didn’t want to skip. Arnold has meant so much to me and my family; I thought of him as a close friend, and Sam and Charlie were both born in the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. He will be greatly missed and can never truly be replaced.
“Presently, I have no timetable for my return to golf, but my treatments are continuing and going well.”
So what now?
Does Woods play in the Masters this year and test his luck? It is a tournament he can play in until he decides he no longer wants to, but at this point does he even want to?
We’ve heard from many people that since his surgeries he’s in a good place mentally, has been enjoying spending time with his kids and getting his business ventures all lined up and that makes it appear like he’s slowly making an exit from the PGA Tour and transitioning into someone who is more of a mentor/coach and will help with the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams.
If this is the path he’s chosen, so be it. It will be a sad end to an amazing career, but it’s a much better end that watching him fall apart on the course.