Tiger Woods indicated in an interview with CBS’s Jim Nantz on Sunday that he has not practiced much after a fifth back surgery in December and that he would not be guaranteed to be part of the final round of the Masters in seven weeks.
“I have to get there first,” said Woods, 45, who was at Riviera Country Club as the host of the Genesis Invitational.
“I’ve looked at my putter,” he joked, without giving a timetable for his return in the next few weeks.
“I don’t know what the plan is,” he said. “The plan now is to move on tomorrow and start making progress.”
Woods underwent a microdiscectomy on December 23, a procedure to relieve pain in the nerves in his lower back. He had the same procedure three times before, one in 2014 and two in 2015. He then had a much more serious spinal fusion in April 2017, from which he returned less than a year later.
Woods has won three times since then to bring his PGA Tour win total to 82, tying Sam Snead. He also won his 15th major title when he captured the 2019 Masters.
But Woods never accomplished anything last year, only achieving a top-10 finish, a draw for ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open in January 2020.
He missed the cut at the US Open and tied for 38th at the Masters, his last official event.
He had his last procedure three days after competing with his son, Charlie, in the PNC Championship in December.
“I feel good, a little stiff,” Woods said. “I have a more scheduled MRI, and then I can start doing more activities. I’m still in the gym doing rehab activities before I gravitate toward more.”
Woods would not commit to playing a tournament before the Masters, and when asked specifically about the first major championship of the year, he said: “God, I hope so. But I have to get there first. I don’t have much movement there is room. behind “.
Recovery from the procedure, which was believed to be one level up the spine from where the previous ones occurred, was expected to take two and a half to three months. He was said to be hitting balls a few weeks later, but Woods’ words indicated that he hadn’t practiced much to get back.
Possible venues for him to return include the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks, followed by the Players Championship and the Honda Classic. After Honda is the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, a tournament that you will be eligible for if you remain ranked among the top 64 in the world. It fell to 51st on Sunday.
The Match Play event is two weeks before the Masters.