Even Tiger Woods, golf's miracle man, is losing his latest injury battle

Five-time winner Tiger Woods struggled in cold and wet conditions on Saturday in the 87th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Patrick Smith/Getty Images.Five-time winner Tiger Woods struggled in cold and wet conditions on Saturday in the 87th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Patrick Smith/Getty Images.
Five-time winner Tiger Woods struggled in cold and wet conditions on Saturday in the 87th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Patrick Smith/Getty Images.
Sheer “stubbornness”. It’s what has got Tiger Woods through lots of adversity to this point in his golf career and will be why he’ll be determined to bow out of the sport when he decides rather than being guided by others. But one of his strengths is now a weakness.

Make no mistake, it was a very sad sight indeed to see a clip of the 15-time major winner hirpling badly on the 17th hole at Augusta National on Saturday afternoon in the third round of the 87th Masters.

To the surprise of no-one, he subsequently withdrew before the penultimate circuit restarted early on Sunday morning, saying he was “disappointed” but that it had been due to

“reaggravating my plantar fasciitis”.

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Woods first cited that problem when he pulled out of the Hero World Challenge, an event he hosts, before it got underway in the Bahamas in December and, by the looks of things, it could end his career.

You’d have to have been living on Mars for the last 12 months to have missed spotting the fact that walking has become difficult for Woods, which, of course, is a consequence of the serious leg injuries he sustained in a car crash in Los Angeles in 2021.

And, when it comes to walking at Augusta National, one of the most demanding physical tests in golf, it’s a real issue for the 47-year-old and one that even golf’s miracle man might not overcome.

Woods capped one of the most memorable comebacks in sport when he won for a fifth time here in 2019 after undergoing numerous back surgeries, but, having admitted his shattered right leg “will never be the same”, this latest battle is one he knows himself that he probably can’t win.

By the time the third round was completed in the season’s third major, Woods had vacated the property, meaning that it was left to others to offer views on his withdrawal, which followed the same thing happening in last year’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa.

“He looked like he was labouring pretty hard yesterday,” observed former world No 1 Jason Day. “It was obviously difficult to watch because he had to come back out and then play through all that (cold and wet weather) yesterday morning, and then he had to take a little bit of a break and come back out and play again.

“It wasn't the perfect conditions for him to be able to at least get through the round. It's disappointing, but that's just kind of, I think, where we're at with how his body is right now.”

On Saturday, Woods made the cut for the 23rd consecutive time in this event, tying with Fred Couples and Gary Player for that record. But, having admitted at the start of the week that “I don’t know how many more I have in me”, only time will tell if he’ll get a chance to claim that honour for himself.

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He’s got a month to try and get himself ready for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, but, with due respect to both that event and the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club in June, most people would probably be okay if we had to wait until the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool to see him re-appear as that, of course, is where he won in 2006 and did so by hitting just one driver all week.

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