Tiger Woods self-imposed leave of absence from tournament golf will continue for at least another week. On Friday afternoon, Woods announced on his website that he would not return to competition at next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he’s won eight times.
“I spoke to Arnold today and told him that I will not play in his tournament this year,” wrote Woods on TigerWoods.com. “I’m sorry I won’t be in Orlando next week, but I know it will be a really successful event.”
Naturally, Tiger’s absence at Bay Hill now begs the question whether or not he’ll be ready to play at the Masters, which takes place in less than a month. Woods, however, is not counting himself out to return in time for the season’s first major.
“I hope to be ready for the Masters, and I will continue to work hard preparing for Augusta,” said Woods.
Woods has not played competitive golf since February 5th after he withdrew 11 holes into the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, citing back stiffness that he endured during a long fog delay. The week prior, Woods made his 2015 debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he shot rounds of 73-82 to miss the cut.
On February 11, the 14-time major champion announced that he would be taking a sabbatical from competition and would not return until he felt his struggling game was tournament ready.
“I’ve put in a lot of time and work on my game and I’m making strides, but like I’ve said, I won’t return to the PGA Tour until my game is tournament ready and I can compete at the highest level,” Woods said Friday. “I hope to be ready for the Masters, and I will continue to work hard preparing for Augusta.”
Woods has missed two events that are regulars on his schedule, the Honda Classic, and now, Bay Hill. There are only two tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule before the Masters — the Shell Houston Open and the Valero Texas Open. It’s hard to fathom that Tiger would show up at Augusta National only having played less than three competitive rounds in 2015. At the same time, I can’t imagine him missing the Masters again. (Last year he was recovering from back surgery that he underwent on March 31, 2014. It was the first time he had played in the event since 1994.)
So, does Woods commit to one of the two tournaments in the Texas swing to prepare for the Masters? If he does, I can’t see him skipping the annual fun at Augusta National, regardless of how he performs in a warm-up event. Your take?