Tiger’s Absence A Cause For Concern

USGA/Chris Keane
Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth walk alongside each other on the fourth hole during a practice round ahead of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. on Sunday, June 10, 2018.

As many of you know, I have covered professional golf for several decades, which has often put me in the right place at the right time.

I have had the privilege of being on-hand to witness all of Tiger Woods’ 15 major championship victories, plus many of his regular Tour wins. Tiger Woods and Sam Snead are currently tied for all-time victories at 82.

My up close and personal association with Tiger and his game over the years has allowed me to notice some signs that all may not be well. At the Genesis Invitational, the tournament Tiger hosts at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, his gait was inconsistent — not what I’d expect from a fully-fit Tiger. At 44 years old, he has already had a handful of back operations, so seeing that ever-so-slight-variation in his walk is concerning to me.

Tiger opted not to play in the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, which is understandable given the exhausting week at the Riviera not only hosting the Genesis Invitational, but playing in it. So, assuming he needed the week of the Mexico Championship to recover, I had hoped to see Tiger tee it up at the Honda Classic, which is basically just down the road from his estate, but he did not show. My concern grew when it was announced he wouldn’t play in this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Golf Course in Orlando, a course Tiger has dominated eight times.

Next up on the PGA Tour calendar is The Players Championship. It’s the fifth-largest event of the year behind golf’s four major championships. A no-show for Tiger at The Players would be a major blow. We’ll know more when the field list is announced Friday.

Tiger loves collecting green jackets, and number six would be a huge accomplishment, tying him with Jack Nicklaus for most Masters victories. Adding another major championship win would also bring his total to 16, which would put him two shy of reaching Nicklaus’s record of 18. Tiger has openly admitted that catching and surpassing Nicklaus’s major victories record is top of mind.

The first week of the Florida Swing, a month-long trek through Florida, is now in the books.

While some of the big names may not have been in the field at the Honda Classic, the 2019 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Im Sung-jae, came out on top. In his 50th start on the PGA Tour, Sung-jae became the youngest winner in the history of the Honda Classic. It was a lifechanging week for South Korean superstar. The 21-year-old not only won a new Honda CR-V Hybrid, he collected a cool $1.2 million.

Sung-jae is the fifth player 22 years old or younger to win on Tour since July of 2019. By contrast, from 1985 to 2000, only four players younger than 22 won on the PGA Tour.

Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara, who both recently celebrated their 80th birthdays and have been together for nearly 60 years, are the driving force behind the Honda Classic, and have raised millions through the event in support of Miami Children’s Hospital.

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