clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tiger Woods' agent 'absolutely' expects him back on the course in 2016

This week Tiger Woods will miss the Masters for the second time in his 20-year career at Augusta, but once-grim estimates about his return to the game may to be improving.

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

In the world of Tiger Woods injury speculation, this rather unspecific statement from his agent would qualify as an optimistic and informative update.

"I do expect him back on the golf course this year. Absolutely. But there's no timetable.''

When Tiger announced at the end of last October that he'd had yet another back "procedure," his second of the fall and his third in two years, the common reaction was that he was going to miss most, if not all, of the 2016 PGA Tour season. He then appeared at his Hero World Challenge event in early December and gave the most depressing press conference of his career, saying there was no light at the end of the tunnel and, "There's really nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards." It was more support for the opinion that this was a long-term rehab and healing process and given the fact that he said he rushed back too soon the last time he had this back surgery in 2014, he was going to be on the shelf throughout 2016. It's what other pros, such as Graham DeLaet, had done when they had the same procedure.

But then came the run up to the Masters and wild, unsubstantiated speculation that Tiger might play the first major of the year. We knew he could at least make a soft swing of a 9-iron in a his home simulator, which was more than other rampant rumors that he was nearly immobile suggested. Tiger did nothing to dispel the speculation that he might play, taking it up to the final week on a Friday night before the usual late announcement on his website that he would not tee it up at Augusta. Just the fact that he took so long to publicly confirm what everyone had assumed buoyed the hope that we might see him sooner than expected -- perhaps this summer.

Now comes the brief statement from his agent Mark Steinberg that also seems much more optimistic. Steiny told ESPN's Bob Harig on Sunday that, "I do expect him back on the golf course this year. Absolutely." OK. He then tossed in the caveat, "But there's no timetable." There's never a public timetable until the announcement on Tiger Woods dot com late on a Friday that he's "back" -- as in, now. That's just how Tiger operates, keeping everything cloudy without much care for your or the media's need to know anything about the future.

Steinberg's statement does not commit Tiger to anything specifically, of course. It's still, somehow, more that we've been getting and is downright upbeat compared to past "no comment" and we-have-no-idea-when dispatches. It may be The Players Championship in a month or it may not be until his Hero World Challenge in December, but expect him back in 2016. Yay?