MEXICO CITY – Imagine the scene of two world-class athletes perched at a corner table trading stories about their injuries and rehabilitation.
That’s the scene Rory McIlroy, who hasn’t played since the South African Open in January because of a rib injury, painted on Tuesday at the WGC-Mexico Championship about a recent lunch he had with Tiger Woods, who withdrew from his second start of the year with back spasms and has missed his last two scheduled starts.
“The good thing is mentally he's in a good place. He's got other things in his life that he's interested in and it's not as if it's just golf,” McIlroy said. “He struggled with his body over the past couple years and it's unfortunate because it just won't allow him to do what he wants to do. It's tough, but I know that he's working hard to try and get back.”
McIlroy was also asked if he thought Woods would be healthy enough to play the Masters in April, and the Northern Irishman said it would depend on how his back was feeling before adding, “possibly.”
Last week Pat Perez suggested on his Sirius/XM radio show that if Woods doesn’t play the Masters he might retire from golf.
“If he doesn’t play Augusta, then it’s over. I can tell you that right now,” Perez said. “Personally, I don’t think you’ll see him again this year. I think he’s out. I don’t think you’ll see him again.”
Perez later walked those comments back, but McIlroy was more optimistic Woods still had the motivation to compete when he’s healthy.
“However long it is that it takes him to be healthy enough to get out here and play, even if he plays eight to 10 times a year, that's a bonus for all of us,” McIlroy said. “It's a bonus for golf in general just to have him involved, show up, play the majors, play some of the other events that he likes and that he feels that he can compete at and I think golf is obviously better with him involved.”