Tiger Woods Withdraws from 2016 Safeway Open: Latest Comments, Reaction

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2016

CHASKA, MN - OCTOBER 02: Vice-captain Tiger Woods of the United States looks on from the first tee during singles matches of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club on October 2, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tiger Woods is withdrawing from the 2016 Safeway Open, announcing the decision in a statement on his website:

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. 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.

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.

Tim Rosaforte of the Golf Channel (via Ryan Lavner) was the first to report the news, with Sam Weinman of Golf Digest providing more information behind the decision.

Weinman wrote Monday: "According to Woods' confidante Notah Begay III, Woods, who underwent two back surgeries last year, is physically healthy, but concerns about his short game were enough to force him to postpone a return."

"His game wasn't where he wanted it to be," Begay said on the Golf Channel, per Weinman.

The news comes just three days after Woods announced he would be playing the event, according to Adam Silverstein and Kyle Porter of CBS Sports. Woods had also hinted in September he would be returning to action for the Safeway Open.

"I'm looking forward to going to California for my foundation event and Safeway," Woods announced on his website in September. "I'm also excited to return to Turkey and Albany. It could be a fun fall."

His decision to withdraw from this event leaves his future up in the air, as Lavner wrote:

Also on Woods’ upcoming schedule was the Nov. 3-6 Turkish Airlines Open and the Dec. 1-4 Hero World Challenge, but it’s now unclear whether he’ll be ready to play in those no-cut events. 

The 11th-hour withdrawal is a crushing blow for tournament officials, whose ticket sales have doubled over last year. Woods was reportedly set to play the pro-am with NBA star Steph Curry, then play alongside Phil Mickelson for the first two rounds at Silverado.  

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Woods, 40, hasn't competed professionally since the Wyndham Championship in August 2015. A number of back surgeries have kept him out of action and called into question whether the once-dominant golfer would ever be truly competitive again.

But his friend, Jesper Parnevik, had stated that Woods was back in top form earlier in October, per Guy Yocom of Golf Digest (via Weinman): "He's been hitting a lot of balls, and he's hitting it great. He's pounding it a mile and flushing everything. On the range, at least, his trajectory and ball flight are like the Tiger we knew 15 years ago. Comebacks are never a sure thing, but something tells me his might be spectacular."

Nonetheless, Woods apparently doesn't have his full repertoire of shots at his disposal just yet. 

"The last thing that comes into play that anyone who's been hurt knows is the acute very precise golf shots," Begay noted. "Obviously it's not where he wants it to be. It's nothing to be concerned around. It's going to come. It's just trying to find the right tournament to return to."


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