Tiger Woods' manager Mark Steinberg issued a strong rebuke of a report published by Golf World on Friday.
The report, citing multiple sources, indicates that Woods "seems unlikely" to play the Masters in three weeks.
Per that report: "According to multiple sources, Woods has not been able to play or practice since withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic last month because of back spasms. ...
"Another source said that he saw Woods recently and he 'didn't look good,' adding that while he hopes he is back soon, Woods doesn't look close to being ready and that a return at the Masters would be too soon. The source added that all Woods has been able to do of late is putt."
In response, Steinberg gave the following statement to Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, in which he refers to the article's author, Brian Wacker, by name:
"I have no idea who Mr. Wacker’s really close sources are. I can tell you this, nobody spoke to him (Wacker); so how he could know something that Tiger and I don’t know is comical," Steinberg said. "I talked to Tiger four hours ago on the phone. We’re not in a situation to even talk about playing in the Masters now. He’s gotten treatments and is progressing and hoping he can do it. There’s not been a decision one way or the other. I couldn’t give you a fair assessment, but to say it’s doubtful is an absolutely inaccurate statement."
Asked if Woods has hit balls at his compound on Jupiter Island, or if he has been putting as the report stated, Steinberg answered: “I don’t want to talk about specifics yet. When we’re ready to get into that, we’ll disclose it. He’s working hard at getting better, he’s working hard at progressing."
Just last week at the Valspar Championship, Steve Stricker told reporters while he has not seen Woods recently, he has texted with Tiger and been in contact with those around him. His takeaway wasn't encouraging.
“He’s working hard at it, but I don’t think he’s doing that well right now physically,” Stricker said.
In the event Woods does skip the year's first major, it will mark the third time in the last four years that the four-time Masters champion has failed to show up at Augusta National.