Tiger Woods’ quest for his 15th major may have hit another hurdle with the health of his back looking increasingly suspect. Special writer Ray Baker reports.
TIGER WOODS may be one of the most successful golfers of all time. He is also the world’s number one player. However, injuries appear to be catching up with the superstar. So much so that he may be in real danger of not playing at the season’s first major, the US Masters, which is less than a month away.
Woods is no stranger to injury. In 2011, he picked up a leg injury at the Masters and missed several subsequent tournaments. However, he has always bounced back and with his trademark determination, Woods has invariably returned as a rejuvenated force. This time though, a back injury threatens to have a lasting impact on his game. He pulled out of the Honda Classic recently with back spasms and last week suffered badly during the final round of the WGC-Cadillac at the imposing Doral Blue Monster course, increasing speculation that this might be an injury unlike any other that Woods has encountered.
Having played himself into contention at Doral with a third round of 66, by the sixth hole on the final day, Woods was clearly having big problems after he tried to play out of a bunker. He eventually posted a score of 78, a bitter disappointment for a player with so much talent and spirit – and all of this with the US Masters and the prize of another famous green jacket just around the corner.
What has perhaps been so noticeable is Woods’ honesty and candour over his current injury. Unlike previous setbacks he says, this is “a totally different deal.” Speaking after the WGC-Cadillac, Woods explained that he has played for years carrying injuries, but that they had until now only caused pain after impact, allowing him to play the shots he wants. But with his current back problems Woods confesses, “There are certain movements you just can’t do.” By his own admission, Woods will have to “learn about this injury.” If anyone can adapt their game though, you would have thought that it would be Tiger Woods. With a natural talent almost unmatched, it is perfectly plausible that he can adapt his game. After all, at the 2008 US Open, he notched yet another major despite a serious knee injury, effectively beating the field on one leg.
In the short-term though, plenty of golf pundits will be asking whether Woods will be fit enough to even play at Augusta’s punishing course, let alone put up a challenge. Certainly, after his difficulties at Doral, the odds on Woods at Nordic sportsbook and elsewhere will surely have lengthened. Another reason to question Woods’ chances is the ‘new generation’ of up and coming players who are eager for success. The likes of Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose already have majors under their belts, not to mention Australian Adam Scott who was victorious at last year’s Masters. Then there’s Patrick Reed, who triumphed against Woods at Doral. Certainly injury is not the only reason why the great Tiger Woods faces a very stiff test even if he does feature at Augusta.