“We’re excited about the prospects of the future, about training, about getting into that gym and doing some other stuff to get my leg stronger, which we haven’t been able to do because it needed more time to heal,” Woods said. “I think it needs a couple more days to heal after this, but we’ll get back after it, and we’ll get into it.”
Pretty safe to say that next week at Harbour Town is out.
Going through the rest of the PGA Tour schedule, it’s most natural to circle the majors: PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., May 19-22; U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., June 16-19; British Open at St. Andrews July 14-17.
Granted, there’s rest and recuperation time between each, but Woods must decide whether he’s capable of scoring low enough to hang at the PGA and whether he’s up for the usual gnarly challenge the USGA imposes upon its Open. Playing the relatively flat links of the Old Course at St. Andrews seems a good fit.
“St. Andrews is, obviously, near and dear to my heart because it’s the home of golf, and I’ve been able to win a couple of Opens there,” Woods mentioned Sunday.
Or maybe he doesn’t play again this season. Any option seems possible.
Woods undoubtedly will use the intelligence gathered this week at the Masters to plot his future. His four days here were marked by diminishing returns and discouraging trending: 71-74-78-78. The 78s were the highest of his 94 Masters career rounds. His 13 over more than doubled his highest four-round Masters total (5 over). Tough conditions Saturday certainly came into play. How much a factor weekend fatigue played into his fade is another factor he’ll have to weigh.
We watched a different Woods this weekend. His stride was sure enough but there was a bit of a limp, especially on the downhill walks. When he lined up putts, unable to get normally low, he settled on a stiff-legged half crouch. To negotiate some fairways, he’d use a driver as a walking stick.
We definitely heard a different one. Woods spoke freely about the pain his leg causes him and the extraordinary maintenance that’s required after every round to get him ready for the next one. Ask a woman if she wants to go through childbirth every few weeks or months and ask Woods if he would like to play competitive golf on that same schedule, and you’d likely get the same answer.
So, yes, file this week away as a sighting that figures to be rare on the PGA Tour calendar.
And be assured, whenever Woods decides to make his next competitive appearance, it will be widely reported.