Is that an indication Woods is rushing his return?
Just a month ago at the annual media day for the tournament at Congressional, Woods, 38, spoke of how much he missed being around the golf course, how much he missed hitting golf balls, how much he missed playing since undergoing microdiscectomy surgery March 31 to alleviate pain caused by a pinched nerve in his back.
But he also spoke of his intent to take his rehab slowly, indicating that he had serious doubts about his physical future before the surgery. He said all those doubts were alleviated once the surgery was performed.
But Woods has a history of injuries, including four surgeries to his left knee, and Achilles, elbow and neck problems. Rushing a return from back surgery, he said, is an entirely different animal than if he were coming back from the reconstructive knee surgery he had in 2008. And by the sounds of things – and the seriousness Woods projected – he wasn't returning any time soon.
"Well, the thing is I've been here before. I've been in this position where I've come out of a surgery and because of my experiences in the past, I've been able to focus on just rehabbing and focus on the little things like that," said Woods, who was No. 1 in the world in March and has fallen to No. 4.
"I know that once I get to a point where I can start playing and start ramping things up is generally when I start getting antsy about getting out here and competing. … Once I start ramping it up and just getting out there, where I can start playing holes and start playing 36 holes a day, those type of things is when I get very antsy and want to get out there and compete."
Woods, who hasn't competed since March 19 when he shot a final-round 78 to finish in a tie for 25th in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, started chipping and putting on April 20. Last week, he began hitting full shots, including his driver. There have been no reports, however, if he's "ramped" it up to playing 36 a day.
"After a lot of therapy I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week," Woods said Friday on Facebook. "I've just started to hit full shots but it's time to take the next step. I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape. Excited for the challenge ahead."
Woods, who has missed the Masters, a title defense at The Players Championship and the U.S. Open this year, has played just three times this season after winning five times last year.
In his first start, he missed the secondary cut on Saturday and tied for 80th at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he has won eight times, including the last of his 14 major titles in the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods was forced to withdraw in the final round with back problems at the Honda Classic. A week later, he closed with a 78 when he was clearly bothered by back problems in the Cadillac Championship.
If Woods is healthy enough to continue to play the rust off his game, two majors remain this season – the British Open on July 17-20 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in England, where he won the 2006 British Open; and the PGA Championship on Aug. 7-10 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, where he won the 2000 PGA Championship.
Woods also could play his way into the FedExCup that starts Aug. 21. (He is 207th in the points race for the playoffs and would need a victory or two or three high finishes to get within the top 125 that make it to the postseason.) And Woods could have his eye on the Ryder Cup on Sept. 25-28 in Scotland.
He has been down this road before, whether coming back from injury or scandal. And each time Woods came back, he's regained his status as the most feared player on the planet. Remember, this is a guy who won a U.S. Open on shredded ligaments in his left knee and a broken left leg.
source: usatoday.com Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY Sports