Planet Golf — 18 February 2015 by GW staff and news services
Tiger decides to skip Honda Classic

Tiger Woods will not play next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National, electing to take more time away from the game rather than compete in the PGA Tour event nearest to his Jupiter, Florida, home.

Woods last week announced that he needed time to work on his game after playing just 47½ holes in 2015, but he had left open the possibility of playing the Honda Classic, where he has competed each of the past three years.

Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, alerted tournament officials Thursday that Woods would not be entering.

“He doesn’t look at this with any time deadline right now,” Steinberg said. “Does he expect to be at the Masters? Yes, of course. But that doesn’t mean that is where he expects to debut. He just doesn’t know where. I think Tiger would tell you he’d be shocked if he wasn’t at the Masters.”

“He’s working at it. When that time comes, he’s going to do some things in practice to replicate whatever he can under the gun and then put it in play.”

Woods missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open — including his highest score as a professional, a second-round 82 — then withdrew on the 12th hole of the Farmers Insurance Open due to lower-back stiffness two weeks ago.

He has dropped to 66th in the world after playing just nine worldwide tournaments over the past year, withdrawing three times and failing to make the 36-hole cut in three others.

“My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf,” Woods said on his website last week. “Like I’ve said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back. … I am committed to getting back to the pinnacle of my game.”

He had said he would not enter the Honda Classic unless he was ready: “That’s not fair to anyone. I do, however, expect to be playing again very soon.”

Steinberg added on Thursday: “He’s working hard on his game, but as the statement said last week very candidly, he’ll be back when he feels like he’s game-ready and can compete at a high level. He’s only been at it here for 3½ days. It’s not there yet. I don’t think that’s a shock.

“There’s been no setbacks. In talking to him, his back is feeling good. He’s working hard. He’s been practicing. There’s been no issues at all.”

Woods will not be eligible for the WGC-Cadillac Championship in two weeks. It remains to be seen whether he would enter the Valspar Championship near Tampa (he has never played the event) in three weeks or the Arnold Palmer Invitational a week later at Bay Hill, where Woods has seven professional victories.

“I got a call this afternoon from Mark Steinberg on behalf of Tiger,” said Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly. “He wanted to let us know that Tiger is not going to play in the Honda Classic. He’s been working on his game this week and feels as though he is not tournament ready to play next week.

“We continue to wish Tiger a speedy recovery. Tiger has been great to the Honda Classic and we look forward to his return to tournament golf in the coming weeks and to welcoming him again at the Honda Classic in future years.”

Woods finished second to Rory McIlroy at the Honda Classic in 2012 but withdrew from last year’s event during the final round.

McIlroy lost in a playoff last year, and the No. 1-ranked golfer will make his 2015 U.S. debut at PGA National next week.

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