DORAL (Florida): The speculation at the start of the year was when Tiger Woods would win. Now it is when he can play again.
The American insisted on Monday
that the injury which forced him to withdraw from the World Golf
Championships event at Doral the day before was only a mild strain of
his left Achilles tendon, and he is hopeful he can still play next week
at Bay Hill.
'Got good news from doc tonight. Can resume
hitting balls late in week and hopeful for next week,' he said on
Twitter. But it is the same Achilles tendon that caused him to miss two
Majors last year. And the Masters, which he has won four times, starts
in 22 days.
This is the one Major he has
never missed. Augusta National is where so many expect him to resume the
pursuit of the 18 Majors won by Jack Nicklaus, the only record that
really ever mattered to Woods, who has been stuck on 14 since the 2008
Beyond that benchmark, however, comes another question that no longer seems as ludicrous as the injuries keep piling up.
Will Woods ever win again? Until Sunday, he
was making big strides in that direction. He ended last year with an
unofficial win in his Chevron World Challenge against an 18-man field.
He started this year tied for the 54-hole lead in Abu Dhabi and finished two shots behind Robert Rock.
Two Sundays ago, he shot his lowest final round ever - a 62 - to finish second at the Honda Classic.
But he is not winning. And he is an old 36. He already has had four surgeries on his left knee.
He first mentioned his left Achilles after the
Masters last year, saying he injured it in the third round at Augusta
while trying to play a shot from an awkward stance on the 17th hole.
He then sat out for three months until he was
convinced his left leg was strong as ever. That enabled him to work on
his new swing, to resume physical training, to get stronger.
The latest injury can only lead to speculation that perhaps his Achilles really is his Achilles, more than the knee.
'For Woods to win again, he'll have to figure
out he's a different person today than he was five years ago,' Nicklaus
said at the Honda Classic. 'I was a different person when I was 25 years
old than when I was 35 years old. I had to learn how to play... I
couldn't overpower the golf course.
'I've got great respect for Tiger's golf game, and I think he'll be back.'