Just as’ comeback looked to be on after 14 months away from professional golf, it has been stopped dead in its tracks. The 14-time major tournament winner withdrew from the Safeway Open being played in Napa, California, this week after officially entering the tournament just last Friday, according to a statement on his website.
CBSSports.com’s Kyle Porter reports the rumor had been swirling, but many were shocked it came to fruition. Woods, now 40 years old, also announced his withdrawal from the Turkish Airlines Open later this fall, which was part of his three-tournament scheduled return.
“After a lot of soul searching and honest reflection, I know that I am not yet ready to play on the PGA Tour or compete in Turkey,” wrote Woods on his website. “My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be. When I announced last week I was going to Safeway, I had every intention of playing, or I wouldn’t have committed.
“I practiced the last several days in California,” Woods continued, ”but after a lot of hours, I knew I wasn’t ready to compete against the best golfers in the world. I will continue to work hard, and plan to play at my foundation’s event, the Hero World Challenge, in Albany.”
Woods went on to apologize to everyone involved with the tournament.
“”I know this is disappointing to you, but no one is more disappointed than I am,” added Woods. “I always want you to be proud of our association, so that’s why I will continue to strive to be able to play tournament golf. I’m very close, taking my game from the range to the course is the final hurdle, and with your continued support, I know I’ll get there.”
Woods was clearly just not where he wanted to be with his game. You get that from the “vulnerable” quote above. Woods has always been big on entering tournaments only to win them. He apparently did not think he could do that this week in Napa, California.
According to his good buddy Notah Begay, it’s not Woods’ full swing that’s the issue. It’s the “in-between shots.” This makes sense as these are the shots Woods struggled with at the Phoenix Open last year when he got the yips. It is presumably the most difficult part of his game to get all the way back.
The good news is that his withdrawal is not an issue with his body but rather with his game. Woods had three back surgeries last year, but said repeatedly he was feeling healthy.
One thing we do know about Woods is that he’s not going to play just to play; he plays to win. If he has said that once in his career, he has said it 10,000 times. In that sense, delaying a comeback where he may feel as if he won’t be competitive is probably the only move in his eyes.
Hopefully we will see him at the Hero World Challenge in December.