PALM HARBOR, Fla. – As speculation mounts over the on-course future of Tiger Woods, the silence coming from the camp of the 14-time major champ continues. But count Steve Stricker among the select few who have had at least some contact with Woods since he's been sidelined with back spasms.
Stricker named Woods as one of his Presidents Cup assistants last year, and Tuesday he was on-site at the Valspar Championship to announce that Jim Furyk will join Woods, Davis Love III and Fred Couples as assistants this fall at Liberty National.
While Stricker has not seen Woods recently, the two have traded texts and Stricker has received updates from several sources regarding Woods’ recovery. According to Stricker, the news isn’t particularly good.
“He’s working hard at it, but I don’t think he’s doing that well right now physically,” Stricker said.
Woods has not played since withdrawing abruptly last month at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. He cancelled scheduled starts at the Genesis Open and Honda Classic and even scrubbed a press conference appearance last month at Riviera.
Stricker watched Woods’ opening-round 77 in Dubai on television and noticed quickly that something was amiss.
“Just the way he was walking didn’t quite look right. He was walking really gingerly,” Stricker said. “It didn’t really look physically like he was ready to play.”
Woods’ next start remains unknown. He has until Friday to commit to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, an event he has won seven times before, while there is no entry deadline for him to play the Masters.
“Obviously he has to get his body right first before he can compete,” Stricker said. “Then it’s going to take some time I think for him to come back believing in his swing and trusting in his ability again.”