Whether you like Tiger Woods or not, it’s indisputable that he makes golf more interesting. Sadly, however, health issues have popped up again and it’s now fair to wonder if Tiger will ever return to serious contention on the PGA Tour.
Tiger Woods made his official return from back surgery last week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and missed the cut on a course Woods has won a record eight times at – including the 2008 U.S. Open when he beat Rocco Mediate in an epic 19-hole Monday playoff. That was Tiger's 14th major championship and, amazingly, his last. He remains four behind the record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus, a mark that Tiger looked poised to shatter about a decade ago.
Alas, health issues – and an off-course scandal – have derailed Woods since. He hadn't played an official PGA Tour event until last week since August 2015 because of back surgery. Tiger wasn't happy to miss the cut, naturally, but said he felt good. This week, he flew overseas to play in the Dubai Desert Classic. That's a curious move for a guy with back problems flying all the way to the United Arab Emirates, which is a 17-hour flight from Los Angeles, but Woods got a huge appearance fee for showing up (that's not allowed on the PGA Tour).
Woods shot an ugly 77 in the first round of the European Tour event Thursday. He had five bogeys and no birdies, his worst in 29 career rounds at Emirates Golf Club, where he has won twice and finished in the top five on five occasions. On Friday morning, Tiger withdrew from the tournament due to back spasms. Uh oh. Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, said the problem is not related to the nerve issues that have resulted in three surgeries on Tiger's back. So that's a positive, but what else would Steinberg say?
Even Steinberg admitted: "I'm sure there's so many different factors that go into it. I just couldn't know what causes a back to go into spasm. Look, he doesn't have the strongest back in the world, right?''
It should be noted that the last time Woods failed to make a birdie in any round of a tournament was the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship in 2014. He shot 78 that day, then had his first back surgery a couple of weeks later.
Woods probably wasn't going to make the cut regardless, so perhaps he just bailed. The next event on Tiger's schedule is the Genesis Open, which begins Feb. 16 at Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles. That event benefits Tiger's foundation, so if he can play then he certainly will. Woods also is scheduled to play the following week at the Honda Classic in south Florida, near his home.
At Bovada, you can still bet a yes-only prop on Tiger winning any major championship this year at +500. Here's hoping that Woods simply can play in one.
Your thoughts on Tiger's W/D and future? Coment on the Tiger forum post.