Tiger Woods’ latest comeback has gotten off to a rocky start, but the 14-time major champ isn’t pressing the panic button according to former teammate and longtime friend Notah Begay III.
Woods missed the cut in his first start of the year at the Farmers Insurance Open, then withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic following an opening-round 77, citing back spasms. He is scheduled to play next week’s Genesis Open followed by the Honda Classic the week after, and Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg told GolfChannel.com Tuesday that there is “no update” to those plans.
Speaking on “Golf Central,” Begay explained that he spoke to Woods on the phone both after the first round in Dubai and following his decision to withdraw.
“At the end of the day, there wasn’t any real, I guess, panic, which I think is good,” Begay said. “Of course everybody’s got an opinion, but I defer to Tiger and his understanding of where he’s at.”
Begay added that he has seen Woods’ workout regimen change with this latest comeback after a pair of back surgeries sidelined the 41-year-old for nearly 16 months.
“I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, I’ve worked out at his house in his home gym, and it’s dramatically different,” Begay said. “It’s less intense, more focused on stability to certain areas. I don’t think there’s many athletes that could have come back from something like this, and to be where he’s at in this entire process is a positive.
“Certainly not where he wants to be, and apparently not where everybody else wants him to be, but at the end of the day, being able to play competitive golf and come out and at least have a chance to put some more work in and show some signs of improvement is a good thing.”
Begay noted that the lengthy round-trip flight to Dubai may have had a negative impact on Woods’ health, as may have the penal rough on Torrey Pines’ South Course that Woods frequently encountered during his opening-round 76. While he remains optimistic about Woods’ long-term prognosis, he added that changes may be in the works following a pair of disappointing results.
“All of a sudden you have to do a re-evaluation of, ‘What am I capable of?'” Begay said. “‘What are my thresholds, and what are we going to do to make adjustments moving forward?’ And I think that’s where we are right now.”