When word arrived via his website that Tiger Woods would miss the upcoming PGA Tour stop at Quail Hollow, it didn’t register as a shock.
Instead, you found yourself asking, “Haven’t we been here before?”
The answer is, yes. Several times, in fact.
Citing a “Grade 1 mild medial collateral ligament sprain to (the) left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles’ tendon,” Woods announced on his website that he would skip the Wells Fargo Championship (May 5-8). The story said that doctors advised “rest and cold-water therapy,” though no time frame was given; still, it would be fair to speculate that Woods would miss The Players Championship the next week.
Woods said he aggravated the knee and Achilles’ tendon while hitting an awkward shot from beneath the famed Eisenhower Tree on the left side of the 17th fairway in the third round of the Masters. Woods had driven poorly and his ball came to rest on pine needles. With massive branches hanging very low, he had to virtually screw himself into the ground, contorting his body in such a way that his knees were severely bent and his only option was to crouch as low as possible.
“I must follow doctors’ orders to get better,” Woods stated.
It will be the third time in six years that Woods has missed Quail Hollow, one of the PGA Tour’s glitzier events and one that he won in 2007. In 2006, he withdrew when his father died. Then, in 2008, Woods skipped everything after the Masters to rest his sore left knee for the U.S. Open.
He won that memorable U.S. Open while hobbling, but immediately afterward underwent surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament. That was performed by Dr. Thomas Rosenberg, who also surgically repaired Woods’ left knee in December 2002. In all, he has had four surgeries on the left knee, dating to 1994, and that surely will prompt even more speculation that part of Woods’ struggles relate to a battered body.
A year ago, Woods was at Quail Hollow for just his second tournament back after having sat out more than four months in the aftermath of a sex scandal that destroyed his marriage. That trip to Charlotte, N.C., resulted in ugly rounds of 74-79 as Woods missed the cut, but this time the scenario feels more like 2008. That year, Woods clearly was trying to rest his knee for one big push at the U.S. Open, and against huge odds – he had played only five times up to the Masters. This time around, again he appears concerned about being healthy for the U.S. Open, and he has played just six times.
But the difference between 2008 and 2011 is truly substantial. In 2008, Woods’ five starts had resulted in three wins, a fifth and a second. This time, his six starts are a microcosm of his woes since the scandal – marginal substance, not a hint of consistency. There were two very good rounds at the Masters (T-4) and a back-door top 10 at Doral (thanks to a closing 66), but he was T-44 at Torrey Pines, a first-round loser at the Accenture Match Play Championship and T-24 at Bay Hill.
With his PGA Tour drought now at 17 months and 19 tournaments, it feels like a lifetime since he has won. (For the record, his last win was the Australian Masters in November 2009. His last PGA Tour victory was the BMW Championship in September of that year.) It also prompts you to crunch some numbers to see just how separated Woods seems to be from the PGA Tour.
When a stellar field tees it up at Quail Hollow on May 5, it will be the 146th PGA Tour tournament week since the start of 2008. Woods will have played in just 41 of them, a stunning 28 percent.