Woods' 6th Masters title on the back burner

Genesis Invitational host Tiger Woods and winner Max Homa (right) posing with the trophy after the latter beat Tony Finau in the play-off at the Riviera Country Club in California. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Genesis Invitational host Tiger Woods and winner Max Homa (right) posing with the trophy after the latter beat Tony Finau in the play-off at the Riviera Country Club in California.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • With the Masters just over six weeks away, Tiger Woods admitted that he is not certain he will be ready to play in this year's first Major championship.

Woods, who underwent a fifth back operation on Dec 23, said in a CBS interview during the Genesis Invitational that he could not commit to playing a tournament before the Masters and that even the April 8-11 event at Augusta National itself remains uncertain.

He had originally expected to take 10 to 12 weeks for recovery, which would have him back by mid-March.

Asked specifically about the Masters, he said on Sunday: "God, I hope so. But I've got to get there first. I don't have much wiggle room left. I've got only one back."

The 45-year-old said he has not practised much.

"I have looked at my putter... the plan right now is to get through tomorrow and start progressing."

The American won his fifth Masters in April 2019, bringing him within one of the record held by Jack Nicklaus. That was his 15th Major title, four more than any golfer except Nicklaus, who won 18.

He won the Zozo Championship six months later, bringing his PGA Tour victory total to 82, tying Sam Snead atop the all-time list. But at the 2020 Masters, won by Dustin Johnson in November, Woods tied for 38th in what was his most recent official event.

"I'm feeling fine, a little stiff," the former world No. 1 said. "I've got one more MRI scheduled, and then I can start doing more activities. I'm still in the gym doing rehab activities before gravitating towards more."

Woods, the Genesis Invitational host, was on hand on Sunday to present the winner's trophy to Max Homa after the California native won his hometown tournament.

Homa got the better of compatriot Tony Finau on the second play-off hole at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

He needed a two-putt par at the par-three 14th hole. Finau found the bunker off the tee and failed to get up and down, missing a 10-foot par putt to give Homa the victory.

It was the 30-year-old's second career victory after winning the Wells Fargo Championship in 2019.

He had a chance to win on the 72nd hole, but his three-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole missed on the left edge of the cup. His bogey-free five-under 66 gave him a 12-under 272 total. Finau had eight birdies and a bogey for a 64.

"I have been watching this tournament my whole life, and it is why I fell in love with golf," Homa said on the CBS broadcast, near tears as his voice cracked.

"Tiger is another reason I'm into golf. I had good feelings this week and I have been playing great."

Homa was two shots off Sam Burns' lead when the final round began. Burns, who has not won on the PGA Tour, was attempting a wire-to-wire victory but carded a 69 to finish alone in third place at 11-under.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2021, with the headline 'Woods' 6th Masters title on the back burner'. Subscribe