It's strange that Tiger Woods didn't want to play in the Players Championship.
It’s strange that Tiger Woods didn’t want to play in the Players Championship.

People will naturally think that Tiger Woods is sick because he didn’t show up to the Players Championship this week for no reason. They will think that he is hurting his back, leg, or other body part. But Woods might just be being careful because he doesn’t want to overdo it with the Masters coming up.

That’s also not good. In December, Woods seemed so sure of himself that he said he might try to play once a month, starting with the Genesis Invitational. It looked like the best place to hold the Players Championship would be on a flat Florida course, three weeks after the Genesis and three weeks before the Masters.

Some people may have thought that Woods’s decision to leave the Genesis after six holes was caused by more than just being sick. There is no question that Woods was sick; the fact that he had to go to the bathroom so often showed that something was wrong.

But Woods himself said he had back spasms in the first round, and while it never seemed clear, maybe there was more to it than that. If it kept him from working on his game at all, that could be why he doesn’t feel ready to play this week.

A week ago, Woods played in the Seminole Pro-Member, a one-day event where he teamed up with Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America. The NBC expert, Brad Faxon, was there and said Woods looked good.

In light of all of this, this week’s no-show is a puzzle.

Woods might play in the Valspar Championship next week, but it doesn’t look likely. Now he is trying to get ready for Augusta National, where he won the Masters five years ago. It was his 15th major win.

He’s only played 24 holes of golf this year, so it’s too much to expect him to be competitive. But that’s what Woods has to deal with now.

Plus a few more things… >

> It was 2009 and Matteo Manassero was only 16 years old when he played with Tom Watson in the first two rounds of the British Open at Turnberry. Watson almost pulled off a miracle but lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink. It had only been a few weeks since Manassero won the British Amateur. At that Open, he shared for 13th place. The next year, at age 17, he became the youngest winner on the DP World Tour. But things have been hard for the Italian player. He hadn’t won in 11 years before he won the Jonsson Workmen Open in South Africa on Sunday. Manassero, who is now 30 years old, said it was “without a doubt the best day of my life on a golf course.”

The only way to get into the Open at Troon was for Will Zalatoris to tie for fourth place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Only the best player in the group who made the cut and wasn’t exempt before could play in the Open Qualifying Series event. Before the week, Zalatoris was ranked 34th in the OWGR. He was likely to make it through the top 50 cutoff in May… The next Open Qualifying Series event is the Mizuno Open, which takes place in Japan from May 23–26. The Arnold Palmer Invitational was won by Scottie Scheffler. He will now try to become the first player to protect the Players Championship title, which has been given out for 50 years. It has been since Rory McIlroy in 2020—when the event was canceled—that a defending winner has come into the Players ranked No. 1 in the world. In 31 days, the Masters’ first round will begin.

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