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With just nine days until the first tee shot at the Masters, Tiger Woods remains ‘listed in the field’ as per the club’s official website. Unlike PGA Tour events, Woods doesn’t have an official deadline in which he must inform officials of his decision but as we near closer to the tournament itself, we look at the reasons why he won’t tee it up at Augusta National.
Woods has played in all but three Masters since he made his debut as an amateur in 1995. In 2014, after suffering a back injury during the final round of the Honda Classic, Woods was forced to withdraw after 13-holes. He would attempt to compete at the WGC-Cadillac Championship but was visibly in pain and subsequently underwent surgery at the end of March. On 1 April, he announced he was not able to compete at the Masters.
Woods continued to battle severe back injuries in 2016 and 2017 and announced he would not play in both Masters' just six days prior to the tournament. In his statement, Woods said he tried everything possible to give him the best chance but ultimately fell short.
The American has set his own precedent when it comes to preparing for Major championships and we now enter the timeframe where an official withdrawal would be most likely.
Woods won the 2008 US Open whilst playing with a double stress fracture on his left tibia and a torn ACL. After 14-years that remains incomprehensible but it came at a cost. Just two days after the tournament, Woods revealed he underwent emergency knee surgery and would miss the remainder of the 2008 season. It was his last Major success until the 2019 Masters.
Just nine months after the accident that saw Woods suffer open fractures to both the tibia and fibula in his lower right leg, golf fans were jubilant to see Woods playing at the 2021 PNC Championship. The 15-time Major champion also appeared healthy and in good spirits at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles when he made an appearance as tournament host.
Woods certainly passed the eye-test and many compared what they saw to his 2008 success. 'If you can win on one leg, you can play' but unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.
In 2008, the then 32-year old took a chance that earned him a Major championship but cost him the remainder of the season. It may have also left lasting damage that we can't quite comprehend.
The 46-year old knows that time is not on his side and a rushed return could result in a similar setback or even worse - retirement. Woods needs three more Majors to tie that of Jack Nicklaus and with an Open Championship venue in St Andrews this summer, in which he has tasted so much success, it seems a more realistic target.
The 2022 Masters marks 25-years since 'Hello World' but Woods has never been one for sentiment. Could he play in the Masters this year? Probably. But is that good enough for him? Based on his own words - no.
Speaking to Jim Nantz during the television coverage at the Genesis Invitational, Woods said: "I don’t want to come out here and just play. That’s how I am. I need to feel that I’m confident that I can beat these guys."
Woods hasn't played in a full-field sanctioned event since his T38th finish at the 2020 Masters. During that season, the American managed only one top-10 finish.
Don't expect Woods to play a ceremonious bit part, he will only play if he feels he can compete. Couple that with a lack of competitive sharpness, as well as playing at one of the most undulating courses that will put strain on his fragile leg, it seems unlikely we'll see him tee it up.
Whilst Woods has confirmed he will be present at the Champion's Dinner, he does not feature in any of the press conference schedules that we have seen so far. Perhaps a sign that he does not intend to take part?
James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.