Woods taking break, will return when 'ready'


Tiger Woods announced Wednesday that he is taking a break from the PGA Tour and won’t return until his game is “tournament-ready.” 

“My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf,” he wrote in a statement on his website. “Like I’ve said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.”

Woods said that the injury that forced him to withdraw from last week’s event at Torrey Pines is not related to the back surgery that he had last spring. He says he is receiving physical therapy daily and “feeling better.” He plans to practice next week at his home course in South Florida and will reevaluate his game.

“I am committed to getting back to the pinnacle of my game,” he said. “I’d like to play the Honda Classic – it’s a tournament in my hometown and it’s important to me – but I won’t be there unless my game is tournament-ready. That’s not fair to anyone. I do, however, expect to be back playing again very soon.”  

The former world No. 1 has dealt with myriad injuries in the past few years – neck, knee, Achilles’ tendon, elbow and back. Last Thursday Woods withdrew during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open because of tightness in his lower back. It was his third withdrawal in his last eight PGA Tour starts, and the ninth of his career.

Since earning PGA Tour Player of the Year honors in 2013, Woods has recorded only one top 25 in 10 full-field starts as his world ranking has tumbled from No. 1 to its current position at No. 62, his worst ranking since his rookie year of 1996. 

Last March, Woods underwent surgery to alleviate a pinched nerve in his back and returned three months later, with limited success. He withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational because of back spasms, labored to miss the cut at the PGA Championship and then sat out the next three months to rehabilitate his injuries.

When he returned to competition in December at his World Challenge, Woods said that his back felt “great,” even though his game was in disarray. He tied for last in the 18-man field.

In his first start of 2015, at the Phoenix Open, Woods struggled mightily with his short game, posted his worst-ever score in the second round (82), missed the cut (by 12 shots) and tied for last, with a club pro. Then came the WD from last week’s event at Torrey Pines, where he has won eight times, including his last major at the 2008 U.S. Open. 

“I don’t think this is an issue of physical limitations,” Woods' close friend Notah Begay III said on “Golf Central”. “It’s an issue of trying to get this short-game thing worked out and then … carrying it over into tournament golf.”

The deadline to commit for the Honda Classic is Feb. 20.