ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods is skipping next week’s players’ championship, raising major concerns about his ability to prepare for the defense of the Master title next month and, more importantly, the general state of his fitness in the wake of four back surgeries.
Woods complained of back stiffness three weeks ago in Los Angeles, where he finished last among the players who cut the Genesis Invitational cut and chose to skip the WGC-Mexico championship.
But he hasn’t thought about making a switch to the players’ championship, the flagship tournament of the PGA Tour, unless something goes wrong.
“Just come back not ready,” said Woods agent Mark Steinberg in a message to ESPN. “It’s not about the long term, but it’s not ready.”
Woods did not offer public comments. Last week Steinberg said that Woods “was not yet ready” to play at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Since playing spinal fusion in 2018 after returning from April 2017, spinal fusion surgery, Woods has said it would limit the number of tournaments he has attended. Last year, he only played 12 during the 2018-19 season and then played three times in the fall, winning the Zozo championship for his 82nd PGA Tour victory. He also finished fourth in the Hero World Challenge and went 3 -0 to the Presidents Cup.
Everything went well in January at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he drew for ninth place. And at Genesis, a tournament hosted by Woods, he opened with 31 in his first nine holes and shot 69, but there were warning signs when he didn’t train on Monday or Tuesday on the site and then decided not to commit to event in Mexico.
“I feel stiff, but I have weeks like that, especially on cold mornings like it was the other day,” said Woods after the third round of Genesis three weeks ago. “Don’t move as well and that’s just kind of how it’s going to go. ”
Woods downplayed him at the time, and even suggested that his problems were worse during the Presidents’ Cup in Australia, where he decided to quit both sessions on Saturday because he didn’t want to push him. He’s back to win his Sunday singles game.
Now speculation will continue. Woods enters the Valspar championship, where did he draw for the second time two years ago? Wait another week and take part in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play championship, where did you draw last year? Do you play both? Neither?
“This is the fun part of trying to understand this whole return – how much do I play, when I play, do I listen to the body or fight through it? There are some things I can push and some things I can,” he said at Genesis. “And so I had a theory this year that I could play with the same amount. What I played 12 times last year, and that’s a bit of my number for the year.
“I won’t play much more than that just because of the physical toll and I want to stay here for a little longer.” ‘