Tiger Woods said his game is not in strong enough shape to return to competitive golf in announcing Monday that he has withdrawn from this week’s Safeway Open in Napa, California and the Turkish Airlines Open. He hopes to play in his foundation’s event at the Hero World Challenge Dec. 1-4 in Albany, New York.
Woods had intended to play in all three tournaments, and committed on Friday to the season-opening Safeway Open, where he was scheduled to play in the pro-am with Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry and play the first two rounds paired with Phil Mickelson. Woods says his surgically-repaired back feels good, but is concerned about the state of his game.
“After a lot of soul searching and honest reflection, I know that I am not yet ready to play on the PGA TOUR or compete in Turkey,” Woods said in a statement on his website Monday. “My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be.
“When I announced last week I was going to Safeway, I had every intention of playing, or I wouldn’t have committed. I spent a week with the U.S. Ryder Cup Team, an honor and experience that inspired me even more to play. I practiced the last several days in California, but after a lot of hours, I knew I wasn’t ready to compete against the best golfers in the world. I will continue to work hard, and plan to play at my foundation’s event, the Hero World Challenge, in Albany.
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“I would like to apologize and send my regrets to Safeway, the Turkish Airlines Open, the fans in California and Turkey and those that had hoped to watch me compete on TV. This isn’t what I wanted to happen, but I will continue to strive to be able to play tournament golf. I’m close, and I won’t stop until I get there.”
Woods has not played on the PGA tour since tying for 10th place at the Wyndham Championship in August of 2015. He has undergone two back surgeries since, and his planned return at the Safeway Open had caused a spike in ticket sales.
“You’ve got to break the ice sometime,” tournament host Johnny Miller told The Golf Channel. “I hope that he picks the right spot.”
The Safeway Open reportedly sold about 28,000 tickets since the announcement that Woods would play, but a tournament spokesperson told ESPN’s Darren Rovell there will be no refunds per PGA Tour policy.
The Hero World Challenge is a no-cut event and is not an official PGA Tour event, so Woods will go an entire calendar year without a PGA Tour start for the first time since 1991.