Tiger Woods has blamed form issues rather than physical ailments for putting his return to competitive golf on hold.
Woods will not compete until at least December after announcing today he had withdrawn from this week’s Safeway Open, after suggesting a month ago that he "hoped'' to play this week at Silverado Resort, as well as next month at the Turkish Airlines Open.
It was to be the 14-time major winner's first tournament in more than 14 months after taking time away after two back surgeries in 2015.
“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 wrote on his website.
“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 US Ryder Cup team (as vice-captain), an honour and experience that inspired me even more to play. I practised 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.”
Notah Begay, Woods' long-time friend who was with him at the Ryder Cup, said he spoke to Woods yesterday.
“This is not at all health-related,” Begay told USA Today.
“He said, `It's just not there, man’. When a player tells you that, he's just not comfortable with every element of his game.”
Begay said Woods had only started hitting drivers in full six weeks and for the past month “had been trying to cram everything in”.
“His spirits are fine,” Begay said.
“He's just upset with letting down the fans, the sponsors, the tournaments. But with regard to how things are coming along, he's feeling good.
“It's not a physical issue at all. A player gets down when they are hurt. He's not hurt. His next hurdle will be to play more practice rounds, walk more practice rounds, put in more work.”
Now 786th in the world, Woods reiterated the setback was temporary.
“This isn't what I wanted to happen, but I will continue to strive to be able to play tournament golf,” he said.
“I'm close, and I won't stop until I get there.”