Tiger Woods’ status for the 2016 Masters has been a big topic in golf over the last few months. Is Tiger ready to return? Will Tiger ever return?
Even this past week, Tiger Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg had to refute reports that Woods was attempting to go undercover to get some prep work in for this year’s Masters.
“Tiger was absolutely not in Augusta this past week.”
Well, it turns out that Tiger Woods will be at Augusta National this week, but he will not be competing in the Masters this year. In a statement released on his website, TigerWoods.com, Tiger confirmed his status for the first major of the season.
“I’ve been hitting balls and training daily, but I’m not physically ready. I’ve said all along that this time I need to be cautious and do what’s best for my long-term health and career. Unfortunately, playing Augusta next week wouldn’t be the right decision. I’m absolutely making progress, and I’m really happy with how far I’ve come, but I still have no timetable to return to competitive golf.”
While Tiger won’t be playing in the tournament, he did say that he will be in Augusta this week for the festivities.
“I’d like to express my disappointment to Billy Payne, the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I won’t be competing. It’s a very important and special week to me, and it’s upsetting to miss it. I do plan to attend the Champions Dinner and see a lot of old friends.
“I’d like to thank the fans for their concern and support. The last few years have been difficult, but I have the best fans anywhere, and I want them to know that.”
Tiger Woods hasn’t played a competitive round of golf since last August’s Wyndham Championship. Seeking to extend his season with a berth in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs, Tiger needed to win the tournament, but had to settle for a tie for 10th. Woods played his best golf of 2015 that week, but still complained of pain in his hip. He decided to seek medical attention for the issue and it was determined that the pain was related to the same spot in his back that required a microdiscectomy in March of 2014, an injury that forced him to miss the 2014 Masters and limited him to only seven starts that season. Tiger’s latest injury required a second microdiscectomy procedure, which he underwent in September, and also required a follow-up procedure a month later.
Woods appeared at the Hero World Challenge in December, which is an annual event that he hosts, and could give no timetable on when he might be able to return to competitive golf. While the 40-year-old seems to be content with everything he’s accomplished in his career, this is still Tiger Woods.
“Pretty much everything beyond this will be gravy. For my 20 years out here I think I’ve achieved a lot, and if that’s all it entails, then I’ve had a pretty good run. But I’m hoping that’s not it.”
Nobody knows when Tiger Woods will be back on a golf course, but the golf world knows that next week’s Masters certainly won’t be the same without him. Woods is a four-time champion, winning the tournament in record-breaking fashion in his coming out party in 1997. He went back-to-back in 2001 and 2002, and provided the golf world with one of the best highlights of all time with his chip-in on the famed par-3 16th hole en route to a playoff victory over Chris DiMarco in 2005.
Woods currently sits in second place on the all-time list with 14 major titles, behind only Jack Nicklaus’ 18, and is also second in all-time PGA Tour victories with 79, three behind Sam Snead’s 82.
For now, Tiger Woods will just have to wait to continue his pursuit of those records.
[Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images]