Woods participated in that December event alongside his 11-year-old son, Charlie, who wowed onlookers with his precocious skill. While Woods’s medical team deemed his microdiscectomy to have been a success and “expect him to make a full recovery,” per his social media announcement, he is bowing out of two California events at which he has been a fixture over the years: January’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and February’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.
Woods said he still plans on serving as a host of the Genesis Invitational, adding, “I look forward to begin training and am focused on getting back out on Tour.”
Golf Digest cited sources in reporting that the “hope” for Woods is to play in the Masters, scheduled to tee off April 8.
After personal issues — some of which were brought back to the surface in an HBO documentary this month — and leg injuries began to derail a career that appeared destined for unassailable greatest-ever status, Woods’s back became his biggest obstacle in 2014, when he was forced to sit out the Masters for the first time since 1995. He played sparingly in 2014 and 2015, failing to win a tournament; did not compete at all in the 2016 PGA season; and missed the cut in his one 2017 PGA tournament, the Farmers Insurance Open.
While at the Presidents Cup in December 2017 as a non-playing assistant captain, after having spinal fusion surgery in April, Woods said his constant pain was “gone” but added: “I don’t know what my future holds for me. … I just don’t know what my body is going to allow me to do.”
As it turned out, the fusion procedure led to what one spinal surgery expert described as an “almost miraculous” outcome for Woods. He was able to play a full schedule in 2018 and capped the season with a crowd-pleasing win in September at the Tour Championship, for his first PGA victory since 2013.
The emotions stirred there, though, were nothing compared with what was elicited, both from Woods and the sports world in general, by his victory at the 2019 Masters. That gave him his 15th major title and his first since 2008, putting Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 within plausible reach.
In October 2019, Woods won the ZOZO Championship in Japan and followed that two months later by going 3-0 and leading the United States to a comeback win at the Presidents Cup in Australia. By the time he arrived at the coronavirus-delayed 2020 Masters in November, however, Woods had finished no better than tied for 37th in his previous seven PGA events, going back to February’s Genesis Invitational.
With a chance to defend his Masters title and get major No. 16, Woods started well with a round of 68 but faded after that and was out of contention by the final round. He was reportedly experiencing issues with his back and his left knee, which has also been operated upon five times, and he finished tied for 38th.
“My body just has moments where it just doesn’t work like it used to,” he said then. “No matter how hard I try, things just don’t work the way they used to, and no matter how much I push and ask of this body, it just doesn’t work at times.”