Just days after announcing that he would be returning to the greens, Tiger Woods has shocked the golf world by cancelling his comeback, saying he is not ready. The former World No 1's abrupt reversal has raised doubts over his ability to return and perform at the sport’s highest level.
The Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Tour had only three days ago announced the long-awaited return of Woods at the Safeway Open in California this week. Woods has been off the Tour for 14 months and had undergone surgery late in 2016 for a chronic back injury.
The 14-time major winner has, however, set aside fitness concerns and said that his form is the reason. “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,” he quoted as saying by AFP news agency. “My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be,” he added.
The 40-year-old was one of the assistant captains when the United States won the Ryder Cup a week ago. “When I announced last week I was going to Safeway, I had every intention of playing, or I wouldn't have committed,” Woods said.
“I spent a week with the US Ryder Cup Team, an honor and experience that inspired me even more to play. I practiced 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.”
Woods, who last won a major back in 2008, said that he would play in December's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
The golfer's sudden withdrawal has cast a pall over the Safeway Open, which had reportedly sold around 28,000 tickets since he announced his comeback.
“I would like to apologize and send my regrets to Safeway, the Turkish Airlines Open, the fans in California and Turkey and those that had hoped to watch me compete on TV,” Woods said.
“This isn't what I wanted to happen, but I will continue to strive to be able to play tournament golf. I'm close and I won't stop until I get there,” he added.