Just when it seemed Tiger Woods was back, he’s gone again.
Just three days before he was scheduled to tee it up in the Safeway Open, his first PGA Tour start in 14 months, he admitted his game isn’t ready to be put on public display.
And just when it was close enough for us to wonder what we would see from Woods, we’re back to wondering when we’ll see him with a golf club in his hand again.
Woods’ announcement Monday (click here for that story) that he was withdrawing from the Safeway Open just three days after officially committing to the event raises the familiar questions.
Is he still hurt?
Is he gun-shy?
Is he done?
The answer, at least in the words Woods posted on his website Monday, is that his game is “vulnerable.”
“After a lot of soul searching and honest reflection, I know that I am not yet ready to play on the PGA Tour or compete in Turkey. My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be,” is how Woods put it.
The choice of words is interesting because Woods never has been one to admit vulnerability. He’s always tried to look like the strongest of the bunch.
For too long now, however, Woods has been a man on the mend.
In the message on his website, Woods didn’t say anything about his back issue but pointed to the quality of golf he aspires to play as what’s holding him back.
“When I announced last week I was going to Safeway, I had every intention of playing, or I wouldn’t have committed. I spent a week with the U.S. Ryder Cup team, an honor and experience that inspired me even more to play,” he wrote.
“I practiced the last several days in California, but after a lot of hours, I knew I wasn’t ready to compete against the best golfers in the world. I will continue to work hard, and plan to play at my foundation’s event, the Hero World Challenge, in Albany (in the Bahamas).
“I would like to apologize and send my regrets to Safeway, the Turkish Airlines Open, the fans in California and Turkey and those that had hoped to watch me compete on TV. This isn’t what I wanted to happen, but I will continue to strive to be able to play tournament golf. I’m close, and I won’t stop until I get there.”
Woods’ friend, golf analyst Notah Begay, said he was surprised by Woods’ decision to pull out of the Safeway Open and the trip to Turkey.
“After talking to him this morning, he just didn’t feel like his game is where he wanted it to be competitive. And so he is going to defer for a couple more months and come back hopefully in the near future,” Begay said on The Golf Channel.
“It’s not body-related. He is playing today down at Pebble Beach and plans to continue his progression with certain aspects of his game. I just think it might be the in-between shots … as we all know it is not just a succession of full shots that are required on the PGA Tour. You have to have the feel shots, the in-between shots.”
This is a disappointing turn of events. There was a genuine excitement about Woods’ return to competitive golf.
That was dashed Monday.
And the waiting and wondering goes on.