Tiger Woods has a major PGA championship decision on his hands
DUBLIN, Ohio — Play again soon, Tiger.
Sooner rather than later.
Sooner meaning one more tournament before the PGA Championship takes place in three weeks at Harding Park in San Francisco.
Tiger Woods is not going to play in the 3M Championship next week in Minnesota, so that means the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational in two weeks in Memphis.
It’s never been a good business decision to bet against Woods, but if he doesn’t play in Memphis, bet on this: Woods has little to no chance of competing to win the PGA Championship.
Mark that down in ink.
Woods’ four rounds at the Memorial Tournament this week at Muirfield Village — 71, 76, 71 and 76 good for tie for 40th in some difficult conditions — was not enough to prepare him for the first major championship of the season on a Harding Park golf course that will have narrow fairways and thick, juicy rough.
San Francisco, too, is known for its cool, damp weather, which does not bode well for Woods’ back issues.
Woods, according to someone in his inner circle, is “on the fence’’ about whether or not to play the WGC event in two weeks.
Asked “how prepared’’ he feels going into the PGA Championship if he doesn’t play another tournament before Harding Park, Woods said, “Well, I think I need to work on my putting a bit and clean that up. But as far as my swing, it felt good. I was able to hit good shots. Friday, [I] was a bit off physically, but overall for my first week back, it was a lot of positives.’’
Woods then went into his typical evasive mode when asked specifically about the need for more tournament reps.
“Competitive reps or more reps?’’ he said with a smile. “More reps, yes. I definitely need more reps.’’
The issue for Woods, as it always is since the last of his back surgeries, is how his 44-year-old body reacts to this week and how he feels next week.
When Woods teed it up in Thursday’s opening round of the Memorial, it had been 151 days since his last PGA Tour round, dating back to February at the Genesis Invitational in LA, where he finished 68th and last among those who made the cut.
When will Woods play next?
This is a question the golf world will have to wait to be answered, because only Woods knows, and he won’t say until he feels like it. He has until Friday afternoon to commit to Memphis.
The man who knows Woods’ game better than anyone, his caddie Joe LaCava, traditionally is a proponent of more reps. But, based on his man’s tedious physical nature, he’s tempered that a bit.
“I look at it both ways — most people would think after five months off you need more reps to play in a major, but sometimes you’ve got to be careful not to wear yourself out,’’ LaCava told The Post about Woods’ decision to play one more before the PGA or rest.
“The key is for him to get home and see how he’s feeling after a few days and then make a decision. Not playing tournament golf, you’re not as sharp as you want to be. It’s easy to practice at home and play rounds, but it’s not like being out on the Tour when the chips and the putts count.’’
LaCava was buoyed by what he saw out of Woods at the Memorial, calling it “not that bad after five months’’ away.
“On Thursday, he looked close to midseason form. Friday, he wasn’t feeling as well and got it around, to his credit, to make the cut, and I like what I saw late [Saturday] and mostly [Sunday],’’ LaCava said.
“Well, I competed and played again,’’ Woods said. “It’s been a while. It was nice to get my feet wet and compete and play again. Tough, tough conditions to start out my first week back, Thursday and Sunday. But it was good to get the feel and the flow of competing again.’’
What did he learn in his 72 holes this week?
“I didn’t putt well,’’ Woods said. “I didn’t feel comfortable playing break [on the greens]. I’ve been in Florida playing Bermuda and seeing minimal break, [and to] come out here and playing 10, 12 feet of break was a bit different and something I’m going to have to get used to.’’
He won’t do that staying in Florida for the next two weeks. He’ll only do that by competing again.
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