Tiger Woods’ 14-month absence from golf will grow ever longer.
Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte first reported and Woods confidante Notah Begay III later confirmed, Woods planned to withdraw from the Safeway Open, three days before the start of the event. Rosaforte said Woods’ expected withdrawal is for “performance related” reasons, not injury issues.
Woods has since announced his withdrawal via a statement on TigerWoods.com. In the post on his website, Woods also announced his withdrawal from the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, Turkey, to be played Nov. 3-6. He did say he still plans to play at the Hero World Challenge at Albany in the Bahamas from Dec. 1-4.
“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,” Woods said on his website. “My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be.
“When I announced last week I was going to Safeway, I had every intention of playing, or I wouldn’t have committed. I spent a week with the U.S. 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. I will continue to work hard, and plan to play at my foundation’s event, the Hero World Challenge, in Albany.”
The Safeway Open was expected to be Woods’ return to golf, his first PGA Tour event since the Wyndham Championship in August 2015. He had announced his intention to play in the event at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif., last month and was in the field, but he will no longer make his return to competitive golf there.
Woods’ upcoming schedule was also supposed to include the Turkish Airlines Open and the Hero World Challenge. Now Turkey is no longer on the table.
Begay elaborated on Woods’ withdrawal, stating that “(Tiger) had some concerns about the sharpness of his game,” in regards to the in-between shots. Begay said that when he saw Woods 4-5 weeks ago, the 40-year-old’s full swing and short irons looked good.
Begay theorized that “not having enough time to get the reps in prior would (be the reason for withdrawal) based on my conversations with Tiger.”
Woods had officially committed to the Safeway Open on Friday and a San Francisco Chronicle report stated that he would be paired for the first two days with Phil Mickelson.
The 14-time major champion, recently named a vice captain for the 2017 Presidents Cup, has been sidelined from competitive golf after undergoing two back procedures last fall. At that last start at the Wyndham Championship, he finished in a tie for 10th.
If Woods had returned this week, he would have done so as the No. 786 golfer in the world.
Now at 79 PGA Tour victories, Woods last won on the circuit at the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. His T-10 two years later at Wyndham was just his second top 10 since that victory.
With Woods’ withdrawal, first alternate Max Homa now takes his place in the Safeway Open field. Mark Anderson moves up to first alternate.
Homa joked on Twitter about his appreciation for the spot but wished Woods a speedy return.
Woods apologized for missing out on his planned return.
“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.”