Tiger Woods, for those wondering what the 14-time major champion meant by being “not tournament ready” in announcing Friday night he would skip next week’s Masters, it probably had something to do with his lack of practice between his Dubai withdrawal and last Tuesday.
And when Woods returned to his home course later in the week, he essentially packed it in before he even got started, according to Golf Channel insider and Woods whisperer Tim Rosaforte.
“I was told that Tuesday was the first time that Tiger had been back out to Medalist since returning from Dubai,” Rosaforte said on Saturday’s Morning Drive. “Secondly, he was out there again for a session later in the week. I believe it was Thursday. And I was told he was there less than five minutes.
“That, along with some reports that he was still stiff [and] walking similar to what we saw in Dubai, all of that put together adds up to the fact that I'm not surprised [by Woods’ Masters withdrawal],” Rosaforte added. “Everybody knew where this was all headed.”
Woods has not played, competitively or otherwise, apparently, since he pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic before the second round in early February. In confirming what most of the golf world expected, Woods said on his website that “my back rehabilitation didn't allow me the time to get tournament ready.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg told Rosaforte his client had only begun “hitting balls in full capacity” this week, which meant “there was no way for him to get ready to play next week.”
Woods worked with swing coach Chris Como in the hitting bays, simulator, and short course at his home in Jupiter, Fla., but the condition of his back and game forced the WD.
“‘Probably some of both, to be honest,’” Rosaforte said Steinberg told him.
This latest setback for Woods, who, as has become the norm when he drops out of tournaments, offered no timetable for his return, raises the ongoing question of whether the playing career of the 41-year-old with a balky back is over. Not according to Team Tiger.
(Graphic via Golf Channel)
“I still don't get that impression. There’s some indications of it but not when you talk to Mark and not obviously when Tiger talks as well,” said Rosaforte. “While there is no specificity as it relates to a target date, Mark was clear in the fact that this was more a matter of not having enough time to get ready for Augusta.
“The Masters … is such a special tournament for him, I think he was ramping up and thought he could get ready to play because it’s a tournament ... and a golf course he knows so well,” Rosaforte said.
This year’s tourney, in particular, must be tough for Woods to miss, since it will mark the 20th anniversary of his historic 1997 victory.
It is also an event contested on an extremely hilly course that could send Woods’ back into similar spasms that caused his early exit from Dubai.
Though doctors had cleared him to play, if his back were still sensitive, Rosaforte observed, it would have been just a matter of time for “something painful” to to happen to him.
Woods, who will attend Tuesday night’s champions dinner, will likely cancel his pre-Masters press conference scheduled for earlier that day, Rosaforte noted.
“There were a couple of days last week when they thought maybe this was going to happen,” said Rosaforte, who added that Team Tiger had been in close contact with Augusta. “At the time this was put on the books there was still some anticipation and some hope, obviously, that he was still going to be able to tee it up on Thursday.”