Tiger Woods’ announcement Tuesday that he’ll miss the British Open shouldn’t come as a surprise. One week ago, he said he hadn’t hit balls since withdrawing from The Players in May. He added that he doesn’t want to return until he’s “100 percent ready,” i.e. until he feels like he can win again.
Tiger Woods lines up a putt on Saturday, June 1, 1996, during the final round of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. Woods went on to win the individual title. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
This Nov. 10, 2010, file photo shows Tiger Woods at a news conference after his round at the Australian Masters Pro-Am event at Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia. Woods believes he finally is ready to move on after a self-destructive year that cost him his marriage, his mystique, millions in endorsements and, lastly, his No. 1 ranking. What remains are relationships to repair, along with his golf game.
Tiger Woods shakes hands with Jack Nicklaus after receiving the Jack Nicklaus College Player of the Year award in ceremonies at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, Sunday, June 2, 1996.
Tiger Woods holds his trophy aloft after winning the Las Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the first win of his pro career.
Masters champion Tiger Woods holds a replica of the Masters Trophy after winning the tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., Sunday, April 13, 1997.
Tiger Woods celebrates as he wins the 1997 Masters with a record-breaking 18-under-par performance at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., Sunday, April 13, 1997. (AP Photo/Curtis Compton)
Tiger Woods celebrates after winning the 100th U.S. Open Golf Championship at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif., Sunday, June 18, 2000. Finishing at 12 under par, Woods topped second-place Ernie Els by a remarkable 15 shots.
Tiger Woods waves to fans after he won the 81st PGA Championship at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill., on Sunday, Aug. 15, 1999. Woods shot an 11-under 277, beating Sergio Garcia, of Spain, by one stroke. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)
Tiger Woods, right, of the United States, holds the trophy as he makes his winner’s speech outside the clubhouse at the end of the final day of the British Open Golf championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, Sunday, July 23, 2000. At center is South Africa’s Ernie Els and at left Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn the joint second-place finishers. (AP Photo/Adam Butler)
In this Aug. 20, 2000 photo, Tiger Woods points to his ball as it drops for birdie on the first hole of a three-hole playoff against Bob May at the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)
Tiger Woods reacts on the 18th hole after winning the 2001 Masters by two strokes over David Duval at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. The win was Woods’ fourth straight major title, completing what many would call the “Tiger Slam.”
Tiger Woods, left, receives the 2002 Masters Green Jacket from Augusta National Golf Club chairman William W. “Hootie” Johnson. The win was Woods’ third Masters title and second in a row.
Tiger Woods gestures as he watches his shot to the 13th hole Sunday, June 16, 2002 at the U.S. Open Golf Championship at the Black Course of Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y. Woods went on to win by three shots over Phil Mickelson.
Tiger Woods, center, sits with his fiancee Elin Nordegren, left, and his friend Jerry Chang, right, during Stanford’s basketball game against Arizona in this Feb. 7, 2004.
Tiger Woods reacts to winning the 2005 Masters in a playoff with Chris DiMarco on the 18th hole during final-round play at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
Tiger Woods speaks at a press conference with the trophy after winning the 2005 British Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Tiger Woods, right, reacts as he walks off the 18th green with his caddie Steve Williams after winning the British Open Golf Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Course in Hoylake, England Sunday July 23, 2006. The win was Woods’ first major title since the death of his father, Earl.
Tiger Woods holds up the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 89th PGA Golf Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., Sunday, Aug. 12, 2007. The win was Tiger’s 13th major title.
Tiger Woods holds his left knee after teeing off on the second hole during the fourth round of the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Woods had reconstructive surgery on his left knee Tuesday, June 24, 2008, in Utah to repair a torn ligament. Woods went on to win in a playoff over Rocco Mediate.
Tiger Woods reacts after sinking a birdie putt on the 18th green, forcing a playoff against Rocco Mediate during the final round of the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
Phil Mickelson, left, winner of the Tour Championship and Tiger Woods, right, winner of the Fed Ex Cup, pose at East Lake Country Club.
Tiger Woods during his statement at the Sawgrass Players Club, Friday, Feb. 19, 2010, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Media outlets, such as CNN with reporter Susan Candiotti (far right), conduct live shows outside the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., prior to Tiger Woods’ statement.
Tiger Woods answered questions in a press conference Monday for the first time since his Thanksgiving night accident that led to revelations of multiple extramarital affairs.
Tiger Woods during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. On a Firestone Country Club course that he has dominated in the past, Woods posted his highest 72-hole score as a professional, including a closing 77 that left him in a tie for 78th place in the 79-man field.
Caddie Steve Williams holds a club as Tiger Woods hits on the driving range during a practice round for the PGA Championship.
Tiger Woods and swing coach Sean Foley watch Tiger’s swing video at the 2010 BMW Championship on Sept. 8, 2010.
Tiger Woods chats with the media after shooting 65 in the first round of The Barclays.
Tiger Woods doffs his cap after holing out for eagle on the 12th hole during Ryder Cup singles. In arguably his most dominant round of 2010, Woods claimed a 4-and-3 win over Francesco Molinari.
Tiger Woods of the U.S. and Steve Williams, caddie to Adam Scott, shake hands on the first tee during the Day 1 Foursome matches at the 2011 Presidents Cup
Tiger Woods of the U.S. celebrates with fans after the U.S. team defeated the International team on the final day of the Presidents Cup.
Tiger Woods celebrates after his birdie putt on the 18th hole to win the Chevron World Challenge.
Tiger Woods drops on No. 15 at Augusta National during the second round of the 2013 Masters. A day later, he was assessed a two-stroke penalty for an improper drop.
Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 24 at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Fla. Earnings: $1,116,000
Tiger Woods after his seven-shot win in the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.
Tiger Woods (center right) and Rory McIlroy (centre left) walk side by side during their exhibition at Mission Hills.
Tiger Woods’ injury suffered on this swing Sunday has his PGA Championship and Ryder Cup status up in the air..
Tiger Woods flashes a smile on Sunday during the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth Country Club in Windermere, FL.
Woods needs to get healthy first. He obviously isn’t. He’d be hitting balls if he were. When he’s recovered from his injuries, he’ll need time to find his form after this lengthy layoff. That’s why playing the British Open seemed like a longshot after last week’s press conference at the AT&T National. Tuesday’s announcement only confirmed what many believed last week.
“I do not want to risk further injury,” Woods said in Tuesday’s statement on his website. “That’s different for me, but I’m being smarter this time. I’m very disappointed and want to express my regrets to the British Open fans.”
Woods’ instructor, Sean Foley, told Golfweek: “There is no such thing as taking too much time off for an injury. Tiger obviously recognizes the big picture for his career.”
Woods’ announcement raises the question of when he’ll return to golf. No one knows, not even Woods. He said last week that there is no timetable for his return. He did admit last week that he’d be back by now if he hadn’t tried to play The Players. He said that he re-injured his left knee and Achilles’ tendon on the opening tee shot at TPC Sawgrass, then withdrew after shooting 6-over 42 on the front nine.
Woods said last week that he’d be surprised if he doesn’t play again this year. He’s running out of opportunities to tee it up, though.
The WGC-Bridgestone on Aug. 4-7 and the following week’s PGA Championship are the next events he’s likely targeting for a return. If he’s not back by the PGA, we might not see him until November or December.
Woods’ own tournament, the Chevron World Challenge, is likely the final event this year that he’d consider playing. The Chevron is scheduled for Dec. 1-4 in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He lost to Graeme McDowell in a playoff there last year.
This is the second time in four seasons that Woods has missed two majors. He did not play the British Open and PGA Championship in 2008 after reconstructive surgery on his left knee.
If Woods misses the PGA, this will be the first year since 1994 that he has competed in just one major championship. It also means he’ll likely miss the FedEx Cup playoffs, which run from Aug. 23 to Sept. 25.
Woods is No. 116 in the FedEx Cup standings. The top 125 qualify for The Barclays, the first of the four playoff events.
The WGC-HSBC Champions, Australian Open and Presidents Cup, which will be held in the first three weeks of November, also are possible sites for Woods’ return, though an early-November return could mean three consecutive weeks of competition. That might be too much, too soon in his comeback.
Woods has finished sixth in the past two HSBC Champions. China is an important market for his main sponsor, Nike. He went on a goodwill tour to Asia between the Masters and Players.
Woods, No. 23 in the U.S. Presidents Cup standings, likely will need a captain’s pick to compete in the international team competition. Fred Couples, the U.S. captain, said June 1 that he’ll let Woods decide if he’ll represent the U.S. in Australia.
“If he’s not ready to play, he’ll be the one to tell me,” Couples said. “He doesn’t have to prove a lot to any captain.”
Couples also said that his captain’s picks, even Woods, will join him in playing the previous week’s Australian Open, saying “If I pick two people and the other guy is there, he should be there.”
Foley said that Woods’ healing will allow them to put the “final touches” on his swing changes. “We were making some positive strides, and then he got injured,” he said.
His game was on the upswing before his injury. He finished 10th (WGC-Cadillac), 24th (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and fourth (Masters) in his three starts before The Players. Woods injured his knee during the third round of the Masters while hitting an awkward shot from pine straw under the Eisenhower Tree on Augusta National’s 17th hole.
Woods expressed optimism about his future, saying Tuesday, “I think my best years are still ahead of me, and I’m very confident and optimistic about the future.”
Besting years like his three-major season of 2000 seems unlikely. No one knows when we’ll get to see whether Woods’ prediction is correct, though.