After his withdrawal from the Honda Classic on Sunday, Tiger Woods and his cranky back immediately became the focus of the golf world. Immediately and understandably, the logical question had to be asked: “if Woods is truly injured now, will he be able to get healthy in time for the 2014 Masters?”
If you’re even a casual golf fan, the good news for you is that Woods has decided to make the trip to the newly redesigned Trump Doral resort to play in this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship. He’s scheduled to begin his 2013 title defense in the marquee group with Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson on Thursday.
Critics, and even concerned Woods fans like myself, will surely think that Tiger is making a mistake by playing this week, but I believe that, as long as the world’s No. 1 player is honest with himself, it’s a well-planned risk at worst.
We all know Tiger, as talented as he is, thrives at certain courses, and Doral has historically been one of them. He’s won four times at this venue, and this tournament seven times. Even if he hasn’t played here since the Trump group renovated the track, the familiar haunts are only going to be a good thing for him.
Before he heads to Augusta National, he only has one more tournament scheduled at a favored site, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Realistically, if he feels good enough to play this week, another two-week layoff would only let him get out of the competition rhythm. There’s no doubt that he needs as much course time as he can get to turn around his awful start to the year.
In the end, it all comes down to what Woods’s back will allow him to do, and whether he’ll play it safe or not. There’s no chance he allows himself to endanger the Masters, and if he does need more time off, testing it this week will allow maximum recovery time before he goes for yet another green jacket.
This could be just another case of pride or stubbornness taking over Tiger’s best judgement, but only he truly knows if he’s healthy enough to play. We’ve seen him play through worse, so with any luck, this will just be another step in the preparation for the major season that lies ahead.