As a busy stretch of summer tournaments approaches, the golf world is still wondering when an injured Tiger Woods will be able to return to competition. According to NBC and Golf Channel reporter David Feherty, the proper question to pose about Woods is not when he will be back - but if.
Speaking at the launch of GolfNow's "Golf for Life" campaign in Ireland, Feherty expressed some serious doubts about whether the 40-year-old Woods, who last played at the Wyndham Championship in August, will ever return to life inside the ropes.
"I am not sure that Tiger will come back, because it is a nerve in his back," Feherty said, according to the Irish Golf Desk. "It's not muscular or skeletal. It's not something you can deal with in a physical way."
Woods has had two back procedures since that T-10 finish at the Wyndham nine months ago, and he and his agent have consistently reiterated that there remains no timetable for his return to competition. He has made multiple on-course public appearances in recent weeks, including last month at the opening of Bluejack National, his first U.S. course design.
But his most recent public appearance at media day for the Quicken Loans National saw Woods put three straight wedge shots in the water from close range, raising questions about whether Woods' game is sharp enough to return for any of the three major championships that will be played over the next nine weeks.
"He is in phenomenal shape - just ripped as usual. But he is not able to make a full pass at it," Feherty said. "I saw him a few weeks ago in Houston and he hadn't played in five months and he hit some good shots, and some awfully skanky-looking things."
Feherty asserted that Woods is "too stubborn and too good" to simply walk away from the game, but he questions whether Woods will ever be healthy enough to play again against the game's best players.
"I think he has a feeling that if he doesn't make it back this time, he might be done from a physical standpoint," Feherty said. "I don't think he needs to do this. He wants to do this. He really, really does. But I am not sure that he can. I am not sure he is in any way clear on whether he can, either."