For more than 15 years, Tiger Woods has been a dominant force on the PGA Tour. Now, as he continues to battle a balky back and is mired in an ongoing struggle just to finish a tournament without reinjuring himself.
When Woods announced his decision to withdraw from this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, it was met with understandable disappointment. Certainly, at this point, questions about whether or not Woods can ever get back to his top condition are valid. Taken at face value, it certainly doesn’t inspire confidence for his return to Augusta National for the 2014 Masters Tournament.
Here’s where that line of thinking is misguided, though. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times – the only thing that matters to Woods these days is his performance in the majors. For just four weekends a year, he does everything he can to be at his absolute best, both mentally and physically. If he’s able to play at all, he won’t miss an opportunity to compete, but it’s still evident that when he’s on top of his game, he’s nearly unbeatable.
That’s why it’s actually a good idea for Tiger to take some more time off. At both the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Woods fought through whatever the true injury to his back is. He posted great scores on Saturday each week, but it hasn’t been enough.
Playing at Bay Hill this week wouldn’t prove anything for Woods. Sure, in a best-case scenario, it would be nice for him to go out, put together four solid rounds, and possibly even win the tournament. But he’s won there eight times already, and while he has a great deal of respect for Arnold Palmer and the event, the potential for damage is far too great.
Love him or hate him, it’s tough to watch an all-time great like Woods struggle so much when he should still have years of good golf in front of him. But if he’s truly going to make a run at Jack Nicklaus‘s major record, he must be absolutely 100 percent physically when he drives down Magnolia Lane. Some extra time off could be just what he needs to come back like a new man.