Tiger Woods will officially miss an entire year of golf. The 14-time major championship winner has withdrawn from the 2016 PGA Championship, and he won’t get back on the course until the 2016-17 PGA season, at the earliest.
Woods continues to recover from the two back surgeries he’s undergone since he last played in a tournament. The 40-year-old tied for 10th place at the Wyndham Championship last August after some disappointing finishes.
"Continuing to make progress, but simply not ready for PGA,” Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, said in an email to GolfChannel.com. “Will not play in the '15/'16 season and will continue to rehab and work hard to then assess when he starts play for the '16/'17 season."
It’s the first time in his career that Woods has missed all four major tournaments in a calendar year. He competed at the 2015 PGA Championship, but failed to make the cut. Woods hasn’t made the cut of a major since the 2015 Masters when he tied for 17th place.
Woods hasn’t made a public comment to address his status since June 7 when he announced he would miss the U.S. Open, a tournament he’s won three times. The 2008 U.S. Open is the last major that Woods won, and he hasn’t had a top-10 finish in any tournament since 2013.
While this is the longest stretch that Woods has missed, he has bounced back from lengthy layoffs before. After knee surgery forced him to miss the second half of 2008, he returned to become the PGA Tour’s money leader in 2009, posting three top-six finishes in majors.
But that was a different stage of Woods’ career. He hasn’t been a top performer in three years, and some in the golf world believe that Woods might never return to the PGA Tour.
If Woods does get healthy enough to make a return for the next PGA season, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to play at golf’s most prestigious event, the Masters. The 2016-17 schedule begins on Oct. 13 with the Safeway Open in Napa, California. With seven tournaments scheduled through November, play resumes in the first week of January with the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, following a seven-week break.
A return for Woods at the Honda Classic on Feb. 23 might make the most sense, assuming his health improves. The event takes place in Florida, where Woods resides, and it would give him six weeks to get ready for the 2017 Masters. When Woods came back from his injury in 2009, he returned six weeks prior to the tournament at Augusta.
When healthy, Woods usually doesn’t waste much time getting back on the course for the start of a new PGA season. To kick off his 2014 and 2015 seasons, Woods played his first tournaments in early December.
Woods’ camp has refuted negative reports about his health, most notably a report in February that stated the golfer was having trouble sitting down comfortably.
“The tweets that appeared this weekend about Tiger's health are ridiculous and absolutely false,” Steinberg said in a statement. “It's reprehensible that every few months someone makes something up and it's treated like a real story. Tiger continues to work on his rehabilitation and we will have an accurate update at the appropriate time.''
But five months later, there still aren't answers regarding Woods’ future. Once considered a legitimate threat to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships, Woods’ chances of capturing the elusive 15th championship are growing slimmer.