Tiger Woods made 'very smart move,' Fred Couples says of WD at Northern Trust

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods made 'very smart move,' Fred Couples says of WD at Northern Trust

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods made 'very smart move,' Fred Couples says of WD at Northern Trust

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When Fred Couples finished watching Tiger Woods struggle in the first round of The Northern Trust, Couples turned to his girlfriend Suzanne and predicted the 15-time major champion would withdraw.

Woods’ withdrawal from The Northern Trust was announced hours before his tee time Friday at Liberty National after he opened with a 4-over-par 75 the previous morning. The decision was a “very smart move” by Tiger, Couples says.

“He didn’t play horribly, but for him to miss some short irons, and make bogeys and a double, there’s got to be something going on,” Couples said in a Golf Channel interview with Gary Williams. “To go out there with a 75 on the scorecard and play again just doesn’t seem like it would be a smart move.

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“For me, when I played I just got used to it. When my back went out, I got away from the Tour whether it was for a month, sometimes five months.”

Couples, 59, says he hated it when everyone would ask him, “How’s your back?” when he’d return to Tour. “I can honestly say that drove me nuts more than anything.”

He added that Woods’ goal, in the short-term, shouldn’t be to post a score low enough to make the cut at Liberty National this weekend.

“I don’t want to use words loosely. … but if he gets fairly healthy, gets a couple of days of practice and looks as good as he looks swinging the club, he might win next week in Chicago,” Couples said.

“That’s the goal. The goal is not to go out today and fight through it and shoot 70 and miss the cut by a couple shots. It’s just be ready for next week, if he can.”

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As others have noted this week, Couples surmised that Woods’ spectacular victory at the Masters in April took its toll. After the celebration with his family at Augusta, Tiger “just took a little breather,” Couples said.

And after not practicing for a month after winning at Augusta and playing sparingly in the months since, Woods can’t expect to return to full form right away.

“You can’t go out and bang extra balls and think you’re going to get through it,” Couples said. “His swing is great, but these little things are going to pop up. And it’s just is a part of life.”

Woods said in a statement that he’s hopeful he can be ready for the second of three FedEx Cup Playoff events next week at the BMW Championship at Medinah.

Couples, who will play next week at the PGA Tour Champions’ Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, says don’t count out Tiger just yet. He wants to see his friend play on the Presidents Cup team that Woods will captain in Melbourne in December.

“I want him playing in that. I think the world and the team wants him on it. He needs to be healthy,” Couples said.

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