Phil Mickelson will miss next month’s Masters for the first time in 28 years with his name now listed amongst the “past champions not playing”, a list with one name noticeably absent – Tiger Woods.
The fallout from Mickelson’s Saudi comments last month continue and the latest blow to the legacy comes with news that the three-time Green Jacket winner will miss the event for the first time since 1994.
Since slamming the PGA Tour for “obnoxious greed”, labelling his once likely new Saudi breakaway league employers as “scary m*therf***ers” while acknowledging their “sports-washing” aspirations, Mickelson has been persona non grata on Tour, apparently walking away to “to work on being the man I want to be”, with many speculating that the Tour had suspended the reigning U.S. PGA Champion.
With the Masters set for April 7-10, it seems the Georgia showpiece has arrived too early in Mickelson’s reconciliation process, yet the absence of Woods’ name from the register of players confirmed not to be playing this year’s tournament has sparked speculation online.
Yes, Phil Mickelson NOT playing is big news…
…but does this mean Tiger Woods IS playing?! ? pic.twitter.com/YLRND7smXW
— Michael McEwan (@MMcEwanGolf) March 21, 2022
Woods was last seen on a fairway alongside son Charlie at the PNC Championship in December and although he was swinging well and the pair finished second, Woods was heavily limping as he continues his recovery from his horrendous SUV crash now some 13 months ago.
The sight of Woods walking without his leg brace earlier this month at the ceremony that saw the 15-time Major winner inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame was a hopeful one but Woods needed a golf buggy to get around the Ritz-Carlton venue in Orlando with his son and even if the green blazers of Augusta granted him such an exemption next month, Woods wouldn’t accept it.
“No. I wouldn’t, no. No. Absolutely not. Not for a PGA Tour event, no,” Woods said in December.
“That’s just not who I am. That’s not how I’ve always been, and if I can’t play at that level, I can’t play at that level.”
Augusta National is a notoriously difficult walk with significantly sloping fairways so it remains highly unlikely that we will see Woods compete. Yet even the fact that Tiger clearly hasn’t 100% made up his mind is encouraging, particularly for those hoping to catch a glimpse of Woods at The 150th Open where a much flatter St. Andrews offers a more realistic target for his return.
That’s not to say everyone has written off Woods. Even after more than a year away from the game, the bookmakers are taking no chances with Tiger Woods, with PaddyPower quoting a measly 40-1 on the 2019 champion winning back his crown, evidently still reeling after Woods rocked the world by winning his fifth Green Jacket, a feat many believed had slipped him by.
As George W Bush famously quotes of a saying in Texas, “Fool me once… shame on… shame on you… ….
“…. Ya fool me, ya can’t get fooled again.”