Is Tiger Woods’ career over? Ex-players think maybe so after latest comeback delay
Star postponed his return from injury again, pulling out of Safeway Open
Tiger Woods’ decision to postpone his tournament golf comeback has raised more questions about his future with some former players wondering if he will ever successfully return to regular competition.
Former PGA Tour winner Brandel Chamblee greeted news of Woods’ withdrawal from this week’s Safeway Open by comparing his plight with the late-career struggles of Spanish five-time major winner Seve Ballesteros.
Twice major champion Johnny Miller said Woods was “not ever going to be the old Tiger”, although stopping short of writing off the 40-year-old completely.
Chamblee described a “perfect storm” of issues that have simultaneously beset 14-times major champion Woods.
“What has happened to Tiger Woods is really the perfect storm of destruction for an athlete,” Chamblee said on Golf Channel.
“We’ve seen Tiger Woods’ golf swing decay, his body decay and then his chipping decay.
“Once you’ve been visited upon by the yips, when you’re chipping it just never goes away.
“There’s nothing more exciting in golf, maybe in sports, than watching Tiger Woods, but there are too many hurdles to overcome. I just don’t see him overcoming the yips.”
Chamblee also explained his comparison of Woods to the late Ballesteros, who was a pale shadow of his former self once his confidence ebbed.
“On many levels, there are parallels to Seve. Seve Ballesteros was a genius, an artist.
“That’s what golf is, it’s more of an abstract game, and Seve tried to make it later in his career a linear game, and every single person that I’ve seen in professional golf who tried to make it a linear game, either becomes so frustrated they no longer can play or sooner or later they quit.”
Woods was scheduled to play at this week’s PGA Tour event in Napa, California, returning from a 14-month break after back surgeries. But his decision to pull out, three days after confirming his participation, was puzzling.
Woods, who announced his withdrawal on his website, has not revealed what happened over the weekend that prompted a change of mind.
The 14-time major winner, 40, who has been out of action since undergoing surgery late last year to cure a long-standing back injury, said concerns over form – rather than fitness – were behind the decision.
“After a lot of soul-searching and honest reflection, I know that I am not yet ready to play on the PGA Tour or compete in Turkey,” said Woods, who was also due to take part in next month’s Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya.
“My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be,” added Woods, who said he hoped to play in December’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
Woods was one of the US Ryder Cup assistant captains as the hosts won back the trophy off Europe just over a week ago at Hazeltine. Woods said while that experience whetted his appetite to return to playing, he realied he was not ready to compete against the world’s best.
“When I announced last week I was going to Safeway, I had every intention of playing, or I wouldn’t have committed,” added Woods, whose last major victory came in 2008 and who has not won a US PGA event for three years.
“I spent a week with the US Ryder Cup Team, an honour and experience that inspired me even more to play. I practised the last several days in California, but after a lot of hours, I knew I wasn’t ready to compete against the best golfers in the world.”
Safeway Open tournament host Miller was crestfallen at the news, and acknowledged that Woods’ glory days were probably long behind him.
“I know there’s a lot of pressure on Tiger after being away from professional golf for 14 months,” said Miller. “Everyone expects him to come back and play like the year 2000, but that’s just not going to happen.
“He’s not ever going to be the old Tiger [but] I still think he can win, if he has the desire. I just hope he can find a bit of joy in the game again.”
Woods is four majors short of Jack Nicklaus’ record haul.
Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Associated Press