Masters appearance hangs in the balance after Achilles injury
IN THE ROUGH: Woods' career looks to be heading for another rocky patch with yet more leg problems
Just when you thought he was back on track, the career of Tiger Woods looks to be in jeopardy once again after the former world No.1 withdrew from the WGC-Cadillac Championship with an Achilles injury. Woods, 35, said the injury would be examined "sometime early next week".
This latest setback sees Woods withdraw from a tournament for the third time in the past 22 months and again raises doubts about his health. The American had started his final round at Doral in a tie for eighth spot but was three over through his first 11 holes before he shook hands with playing partner Webb Simpson and called it a day.
"I felt tightness in my left Achilles warming up this morning, and it continued to get progressively worse. After hitting my shot at 12, I decided it was necessary to withdraw. In the past, I may have tried to continue to play, but this time I decided to do what I thought was necessary."
Woods had switched from black shoes to white shoes at the turn, with some citing a problem with blisters as the reason for his limping. But when he put his second shot at the par-5 tenth into the water, he grimaced in pain, reminiscent of his eventual week at Torrey Pines in 2008 when he won the US Open despite playing with a stress fracture in his left leg. Journalists on the course who were following Woods before he hit that shot said he had shown no signs of pain on the front nine.
His partner Simpson said: "It looked like he made a swing on 12 that really hurt. But he didn't say a whole lot. He just said he's got to be done. It looked like he was in some pain ... maybe his heel was bothering him, something with his foot. I don't think it's anything serious, but we didn't talk or anything so I'm not sure exactly what it was."
McIlroy was asked his thoughts on Woods' withdrawal and said he was disappointed to see the American once again worrying about the state of his health - and as a possible doubt for the upcoming first major of the year at Augusta National in April.
"I saw Tiger and Joey go right off the tee box and I saw Webb and Paul go left. I didn't know if Tiger was going to the bathroom or what he was doing," said McIlroy. "But obviously it sounds like he's hurt his left leg, left knee, I'm sure, but to be honest, it's a shame, because he looked like he was coming out this year, swinging it really well, playing good, getting himself into contention. It's probably just precautionary, but I really hope he's healthy for the Masters, because obviously it would be a great week with him there."
It was reported that Woods was asked by a police officer in the parking lot what the problem was and he replied, "leg". The officer then allegedly asked which one, to which Woods replied, "left leg injury".
Woods then surprised many reporters and TV commentators when he opted to drive home injured to his house in Jupiter - which is roughly an hour's drive from Doral.
Woods, who was playing for the third week in a row, is scheduled to return to the PGA Tour on March 22-25 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, where Scotland's Martin Laird will be the defending champion.
At the Abu Dhabi Championship in late January, Woods was asked if he could remember the last time he was able to go out and compete completely injury free, with 100% no pain. He replied: "I don't know, probably eight, ten, 12 years ago."
The news will come as a huge setback to Woods as he attempts to win his first full event since the Australian Open in 2009. He won last year's Chevron World Challenge, but that was a limited field event with only 18 players taking part. And speaking at the recent Honda Classic he said he was now more focused on seeing his kids and, as such, did not have as much time to practice.
"There's only so much time I can do. My time that I'm here at home, I really don't have as much time as people might think to practice. I'm focused on my kids and they are the No.1 priority. And if they are around and I have time with them, then I'm not playing golf."