Tiger Woods’ caddie and long-time confidant Joe LaCava seemingly saw the golfing icon’s Masters withdrawal coming from a mile away as soon as the weather forecasts for Augusta came in. The 15-time major champion has admitted previously that his body struggles to walk around the hilly Augusta course even on a warm and sunny day.
It was only a few months ago when Woods withdrew from his Hero World Challenge with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He had to use a golf cart on his injury comeback in ‘The Match’, where he played alongside Rory McIlroy against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
But Woods appeared to put those injury concerns behind him with a surprise return at the Genesis Invitational in February. His unwavering confidence was still there too, admitting in his pre-tournament press conference that he “not have put myself out here if I didn’t think I could beat these guys and win the event”.
He made the cut, but his difficulties in fulfilling the obligations of 72 holes were clear to see due to the damage done to his right knee from the near-fatal car crash as well as the foot injury. His main goal was always going to be to tee up for The Masters, although his confident demeanour had seemingly taken a hit, admitting before the tournament that he didn’t know how many more he would be able to compete in.
A first round 74 was seen as a sign that not all was well for Woods on a day where the course was there for low scores. Then the torrential weather hit Augusta and that only made things worse for a determined Woods.
Saturday’s stop-start schedule ultimately proved too much for Woods’ body with his withdrawal confirmed ahead of play restarting on Sunday. And it will hardly come as a surprise for LaCava, who ended up being a shoulder for Woods to lean on throughout the tournament.
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“My biggest fear going in … is we get a lot of rain and thunderstorms and we get the stop and start, or we get extra holes one day,” LaCava told the New York Post. “I can’t imagine him going 27-plus holes [in one day] around here. … I’m hoping first and foremost that doesn’t happen.”
It now remains to be seen whether Woods will be able to return in time to compete at the next major of the season in May. The 2023 PGA Championship will be held at the Oak Hill Country Club, Los Angeles, from May 18-21.
But there will also be concerns on whether Woods will be able to tee it up at any 2023 major with the remaining three just a few months apart. The 2023 Open Championship will be held at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club from July 16-23.
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