If you listen to what Steve Stricker has to say, it doesn’t sound like Tiger Woods is going to be putting a peg in the ground at the Masters this year.
And with Woods’ camp quiet on the subject, reading between the lines of remarks made by the few people who actually talk to the 14-time major winner is all we can do.
According to ESPN’s Bob Harig, Stricker has been texting with Woods since his withdrawal from the Dubai Desert Classic last month.
“He’s working hard at it. [presumably, rehab],” Stricker said. “But I don’t think he’s doing that well physically.”
Woods will have to walk before he can run and do both before he can play golf…and this may not just be figuratively. The guy who looked like your grandfather as he exited the course in Dubai isn’t going to be winning any majors. Stricker seems to share a similar opinion.
“Just the way he was walking didn’t look quite right. Walking very gingerly. Slow and methodical. It didn’t really look physically like he was ready to play. You have that and then that goes into your game and it affects you mentally, too.”
Questions about the recurrence of a back issue arrived with Woods in Dubai after an uninspired showing at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he missed the cut. And they certainly followed him out of the Middle East oil metropolis after the spectacle of disarray that was his attempt to swing a golf club and the “Ow! Ow! My back!” pace of his gait.
Tiger’s injury timeline (in case you needed a recap):
With Stricker sounding so glum about his Presidents Cup vice-captain’s future prospects, it’s worth noting that next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational is traditionally Woods’ final start before the Masters.
There isn’t a shot in hell he’s going to Puerto Rico for the PR Open the week of March 23rd, and he never plays the week before a major (sorry, Shell Houston Open). It doesn’t sound like we’re going to see Woods at the AP Invitational.
So it’s fitting to ask not only “Will Tiger play the Masters?” but “Do we want to see the version of Tiger Woods who might compete at the Masters?” Based on the silence from the Woods posse and Stricker’s remarks, probably not.