Golf: 'Tiger may not get out of the Woods'

Tiger Woods watching the action at Hazeltine National Golf Club as one of the US Ryder Cup assistant captains. He said the experience whetted his appetite to return to playing, but he realised he was not ready to compete.
Tiger Woods watching the action at Hazeltine National Golf Club as one of the US Ryder Cup assistant captains. He said the experience whetted his appetite to return to playing, but he realised he was not ready to compete.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Woods postpones return again; past players fear that he will never return to his best form

LOS ANGELES • Tiger Woods' decision to postpone his tournament golf comeback again has raised more questions about his future, with some former players wondering if he will ever successfully return to regular competition.

The former world No. 1 had said earlier yesterday that his game is "not where it needs to be" to return to competitive golf.

Woods added that he would not play in the Safeway Open in California this week, nor the European Tour's Turkish Airlines Open next month, as he continues to recover from back problems.

"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," Woods said on his website.

"My health is good and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be.

"When I announced last week I was going to Safeway, I had every intention of playing, or I wouldn't have committed.

TIGER IS A DIFFERENT ANIMAL

Everyone expects him to come back and play like the year 2000, but that's just not going to happen. He's not ever going to be the old Tiger (but) I still think he can win, if he has the desire.

JOHNNY MILLER, a two-time Major champion, on the pressure fellow American Tiger Woods is under as he seeks a comeback to competitive golf.

"I practised 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 I will continue to strive to be able to play tournament golf. I'm close, and I won't stop until I get there."

Former PGA Tour winner Brandel Chamblee greeted the news of Woods' withdrawal by comparing the player's plight with the late-career struggles of Spanish five-time Major winner Seve Ballesteros.

"What has happened to Tiger Woods is really the perfect storm of destruction for an athlete," Chamblee said on Golf Channel.

"We've seen Tiger Woods' golf swing decay, his body decay and then his chipping decay.

"Once you've been visited upon by the yips, when you're chipping it just never goes away. There are too many hurdles to overcome. I just don't see (Woods) overcoming the yips."

Chamblee also explained his comparison of 14-time Major winner Woods to the late Ballesteros, who was a pale shadow of his former self once his confidence ebbed.

"On many levels, there are parallels to Seve. Seve Ballesteros was a genius, an artist," he said.

"That's what golf is, it's more of an abstract game, and Seve tried to make it later in his career a linear game. And every single person that I've seen in professional golf who tried to make it a linear game, either becomes so frustrated they no longer can play, or sooner or later they quit."

Two-time Major champion Johnny Miller also said Woods was "not ever going to be the old Tiger", although he stopped short of writing off the 40-year-old completely.

"I know there's a lot of pressure on Tiger after being away from professional golf for 14 months," said Miller, the Safeway Open tournament host. "Everyone expects him to come back and play like the year 2000, but that's just not going to happen.

"He's not ever going to be the old Tiger (but) I still think he can win, if he has the desire."

Woods, who has not won a US PGA event for three years, plans to turn up at his foundation's Hero World Challenge in Albany, Bahamas, in December.

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline ''Tiger may never get out of the Woods''. Print Edition | Subscribe