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DEREK LAWRENSON: Tiger Woods silence is deafening… we haven’t had an official update since March

Amid a flurry of recent announcements about Tiger Woods, one bulletin has remained absent: how the hell is he?

We’ve heard about the inspirational role he played behind the scenes at the Ryder Cup. We’ve seen some nostalgic pictures concerning the 25th anniversary of his first victory on tour in Las Vegas.

On his website, they’ve celebrated a similar landmark for his foundation with a nice story of a boy from humble beginnings who graduated through one of its programmes and is now training to be a flight mechanic.

There has been no official update about Tiger Woods’ recovery since way back in March 

On Twitter and Instagram, where we usually hear his news these days, we have been informed about the first-class field that has been assembled for his 20-man invitational event in the Bahamas in December, including Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy.

There’s just one problem with all these updates. It leads us inevitably to wonder about the health of the man who is still, by miles, the biggest name in the sport.

The last official statement was way back in March, a month after the horrific car accident in Los Angeles where he came close to losing his life. ‘I will be recovering at home, and working on getting stronger each day,’ the statement concluded.

A couple of weeks ago, Tiger, alongside his long-time girlfriend Erica, was wearing a medical sleeve on his right leg, the one that took the brunt of the punishment when his SUV careered down a bank.

The picture suggested he was able to enjoy at least a quality of life, the first item on the wishlist once the shocking photographs of the car crash emerged.

Woods was involved in a car accident in Los Angeles where he came close to losing his life

Emergency responders assess the damaged vehicle driven by Woods back in February

Emergency responders assess the damaged vehicle driven by Woods back in February

Would it really be that intrusive if we had even quarterly updates? How he’s progressing, what he’s able to do, any prospect of him picking up a golf club? To be fair, it’s never been the Tiger way.

Instead, we have had snippets from his mates on tour, usually centred on generic sentiments like ‘he’s progressing well’ and ‘concentrating on his recovery’.

For the millions of his fans starved of information from the horse’s mouth, the wait shouldn’t be that long now for something more meaningful. Pencil in his event in the Bahamas.

Tiger will surely want to show his face, do a bit of TV commentary and demonstrate he is now firmly on the mend. A couple of months shy of his 46th birthday, it would be an ominous sign regarding any foreseeable prospect of a return to tournament play if he wasn’t able to make that date.

Saudi requests offer a glimpse of the future

And so it begins. According to Golfweek magazine in the US, Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood and defending champion Dustin Johnson are among the first tranche of eight players to apply for release waivers from the PGA Tour to play in the Saudi Invitational in February. There will be more.

The Saudis couldn’t agree a way forward with the European and PGA Tours for their proposed global circuit so they bought the Asian Tour and shifted their invitational event from the Euro schedule to that one. 

It will take place after events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the European Tour and naturally there will be plenty of inducements on offer for the stars to stay an extra week.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson is among the first tranche of players to apply for release waivers from the PGA Tour to play in the Saudi Invitational in February

Defending champion Dustin Johnson is among the first tranche of players to apply for release waivers from the PGA Tour to play in the Saudi Invitational in February 

The default position of the PGA-Euro Tour alliance is to refuse such waivers — there will, after all, be an event taking place in the same region that week on the latter circuit — but will they do so when push comes to shove?

Could this end up being the first of the legal battles that Paul McGinley bleakly suggested in these pages recently might well be the sport’s fate over the next few years?

Has the European Tour killed off their qualifying school? It’s usually about this time of year that 150 or so players from across the world gather in Spain in the hope of gaining a card to play on the main circuit but it wasn’t held in 2020 and it won’t be staged this season either.

The tour insist no long-term decision has been made with the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to be the official explanation for not playing but don’t be surprised if it now proves a thing of the past.

This year, the tour has gone to a similar model to the PGA Tour, with cards given instead to the top 20 from the reserve circuit, the Challenge Tour.

I fear it will prove a death knell for the school labelled ‘the toughest test in golf’, a place where dread and neuroses stalked every shot but where stories of untold sacrifice and joy would emerge.


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