There may come a time when Tiger Woods will only play in the Majors if the issues related to his health don’t improve, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
The Memorial Tournament, hosted by the great Jack Niklaus, is one of the special stops on the PGA Tour. ‘Jack’s Place’, as Muitfield Village is affectionately called, was designed by the Golden Bear himself and regularly attracts the best players in the world.
Woods has enjoyed life at the Memorial and will make his 17th appearance at the tournament. Of his previous 16 appearances, he managed to win five times at ‘Jack’s Place’, including three straight victories from 1999-2001. A win this weekend will also see Woods tie Sam Snead for the most PGA tour wins, 82.
It’s Woods’ first appearance since missing the cut at the PGA Championship earlier this month. Before that, Woods’ last teed it up in April at the Masters, where he won his 15 Major championship.
In the month between the first two Majors of 2019 Woods didn’t play in any tournament, and looked rusty at the PGA from his first tee shot to his final putt.
When I don’t play golf for a month, it normally takes me half a round and three to four beers to swing properly. Woods obviously trained in between the Masters and the PGA, and played a few rounds with his coaches or mates. But a top professional needs tournament golf to hone their game to compete under pressure.
Woods sighted mental fatigue for his decision not to play ahead of the PGA, and then decided not to play the back nine of Bethpage Black a day before the Major because of a back issue. He played the back nine in his first two rounds in six-over par.
‘I just wasn’t moving the way I needed to,’ Woods said after missing the cut. ‘That’s the way it goes. There’s going to be days and weeks where it just doesn’t work.
‘Being a little bit older and with the back the way it is, there’s a lot of concerns. When it comes to what do I need to do to get ready and be ready to go, sometimes the quick turnarounds may be a little bit more difficult.’
Quick turnarounds may not be possible at all in the future, because I think Woods’ back is not as great as people think. Yes, he has played some great golf over the last year and has wowed the world with his win at the Masters. But playing two tournaments in the last six weeks is worrying.
We’ll see what he gets up to this weekend and Nicklaus will certainly be a key spectator, as Woods is now only three Major championships adrift of the Golden Bear’s record of 18.
‘When you get to be 43 years old you start getting a little creak here and another creak there,’ Nicklaus said ahead of his tournament. ‘We all have a lot of those problems. But if you manage them and you know how to pace yourself you can do that.
‘He’s at the age where he needs to pace himself and he can’t just do everything everybody asks him to do. He’s got to be a little selfish.’
Woods, though, wouldn’t be selfish if he only plays the majors because of his back. He is chasing 18 majors and his got to give himself the best opportunity to do that.
But hopefully that won’t be case and we still see a lot more of the Big Cat in tournaments such as Memorial.