Matt Kuchar and Martin Kaymer started the day playing in a three-ball at TPC Sawgrass, but nine holes into the round, it turned into a two-ball after Tiger Woods withdrew, citing injury. Woods has been recovering from a Grade 1 mild medical collateral ligament sprain to his left knee (the same one that’s endured four surgeries) and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon. He shot a dreadful six-over 42, which included rolling in a 17-footer for triple-bogey on the fourth hole. Before leaving, he said the pain started on the first tee shot. “Yeah, the knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that and then the calf started cramping up,” he said. “Everything started getting tight, so it’s just a whole chain reaction.”
It didn’t help when his foot slipped on the pine straw on the second hole.
“My left foot slipped,” said Tiger. “It obviously would have probably felt better if it would have held.”
Kuchar, who carded a three-under 69, said Tiger looked like he was in pain this morning. “He was walking quite slowly, quite gingerly, it seemed like,” said Kuchar. “He was just last to get to his ball every time as he was just walking so gingerly. It was funny, it looked like he was putting it great and driving it great, but the clubs other than those two, weren’t so good for him today.”
Tiger didn’t complain or mention his discomfort to his playing partners.
“He just said, ‘Have a good nine,'” Kuchar recalled. “‘Play well.'”
Kaymer, who straightened out his driving, shot a five-under 67 and was more concerned about his own game. “I was surprised because I was not expecting it,” he said. “I mean, nobody really knows how much pain he was in. Of course, we hope that he gets well soon…it would have been nice to play another 27 (holes) with him.”
The 26-year-old German did take note the Guy Formerly Known as the World’s Greatest Golfer was lagging behind him and Kuchar.
“He was walking really slowly,” said Kaymer. “He was walking behind us, but I didn’t know that it was because of pain — I just thought that he walks a little slower than me.”
Credit Tiger for showing up and trying to play through the pain, but it’s tough not to wonder what in the world he was doing at TPC Sawgrass in the first place. Was it a favor to Commissioner Tim Finchem? After all, the Tour sold enough tickets since Tiger showed.
“They (the doctors) said I could play,” said Tiger. “The more rest I get, the better it would be, obviously. It’s a big event. I wanted to come back for it and play, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish.”
His front-nine 42 was his highest nine-hole score at The Players in 14 appearances. His previous high was 39, set on four different occasions.
Should he have called it quits before he reached the turn?
“Probably,” Woods said.
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)