Anyone who has followed golf over the past eight to 10 weeks can’t be surprised that Tiger Woods has elected not to play in the AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club.
To paraphrase the old saying, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one in the newspaper.”
Given that Woods has had four surgeries on his left knee, and currently is recovering from a sprained medial collateral ligament in the same knee suffered on April 9 in the third round of the Masters, he must make sure that he’s absolutely, positively healthy the next time he takes that ferocious swing in competition.
When he hobbled into the Aronimink clubhouse on May 24, he said his immediate goal was to play in the U.S. Open. But it didn’t seem likely given Woods’ penchant for work that he could get in enough quality practice time in advance of the Open, which was being played at Congressional, the host club for the first three AT&T National events.
So when he withdrew from the Open on June 7, he said his next goal was to participate in the AT&T National. But that didn’t seem too likely either, and he confirmed that fact on Wednesday.
The question now is, will Woods play in the British Open? He didn’t address that in the short story explaining his sitting out the AT&T National, a piece that ran on his web site.
And a bigger question, one that’s getting louder with each week, is: Will he play at all the rest of the year?
No one has any way of knowing. His only competition since the Masters has been nine painful holes in the first round of the Players Championship. His knee has to be right. Then there’s the question of a rebuilt swing, one that he hasn’t had a chance to test very much in competition since hiring Sean Foley as his coach.
Woods will be asked these and other questions during a news conference Tuesday at Aronimink. At last month’s appearance at the club, Woods said his current rehab was nothing compared to the eight months he had to sit out after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee following the 2008 U.S. Open.
Apparently, his current rehab is going well.
Greg McLaughlin, the AT&T tournament director and director of the Tiger Woods Foundation, said Wednesday that Woods was “going through his rehab fairly actively” when asked if Woods would be at the course any of the four days of competition.
“In my view, if he’s not going to play, he should then focus on whatever he needs to do to get healthy and get out there playing again,” McLaughlin said. “If he’s not going to play, I’d prefer he gets as healthy as possible and come back as quickly as he can.”
Woods will be missed at Aronimink. Although he tied for 46th place last year, and failed to break par in any of the four rounds, Woods drew by far the largest galleries. It’s hard to imagine that many people will buy tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday just to get a glimpse or to say hello, but who knows?
McLaughlin recalled that there were plenty of stories concerning Woods’ absence from Congressional on the days leading into the U.S. Open.
“But once the Open started, the golf took over,” he said.
That’s probably true, although Rory McIlroy’s performance had a lot to do with it. You have to hope that a field that includes past major champions Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Lucas Glover and Vijay Singh, along with defending champion Justin Rose and West Chester's Sean O'Hair, will generate a buzz on tournament week.
Somehow, however, with the AT&T National in the final year of its two-year run locally, you can’t help but feel the fans got a bit cheated not seeing Woods compete both years at or near his best, at least before the dreadful stew of infidelity, divorce, swing changes, coaching changes, sagging confidence and injuries took hold of him.