Steinberg: Woods' return 'not dependent on health'


Tiger Woods announced on his website Wednesday that he needs “a lot of work” on his game and suggested that he may not play the Honda Classic, which was expected to be his next start.

Woods, who withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open last week after just 11 holes with back spasms, also said in the statement that “this latest injury is not related to my previous [back] surgery.”

Mark Steinberg, Woods’ manager with Excel Sports, said Woods had his back checked by his trainer and therapist after leaving Torrey Pines and that there were no concerns.

“Between his trainer and his therapist that was easily detectable,” Steinberg told “He started getting worked on immediately. It was apparent everything was intact and he was resting pretty comfortably.”

Steinberg also explained the timing of the statement, pointing out there had been a large number of inquires from the media regarding Woods’ health. Woods' team didn’t want to make a public statement during this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, nor did they want to wait until Monday.

As to when Woods, who has played just nine events in the last year and a half, may return, Steinberg wouldn’t speculate, saying only that Woods plans to start working on his game on Monday in south Florida.

“He wants to play right now, to be honest with you,” Steinberg said. “He’s chomping at the bit. Honestly, he competes to compete at the absolute highest level. Clearly these last two events weren’t up to that. When that swing gets grooved he’ll be ready to go.”

In Woods' last two events, he shot a career-worst 82 in missing the cut in Phoenix, and was 2 over par when he withdrew after 11 holes in San Diego.

According to Golf Channel’s Notah Begay, Woods plans to fly to Colorado to join girlfriend Lindsey Vonn, who is competing at the World Alpine Ski Championships. When he returns, Steinberg said, Woods will begin preparing for his next start, wherever that may be.

“It’s not dependent on health right now,” Steinberg said. “It’s having the time to focus on the game in an uninterrupted way. Doing it in the public spotlight, understandably so, it’s not the most conducive.”

Steinberg also acknowledged Woods’ ultimate goal of being prepared for the Masters, which he missed for the first time as a professional last year and begins eight weeks from Thursday.

“He looks to peak four times a year. That’s not to diminish the other events, but yes, the Masters is incredibly important,” Steinberg said.