(Reuters) – Tiger Woods has withdrawn from this week’s Safeway Open and will not play at next month’s Turkish Airlines Open, delaying his comeback after 14 months out following back surgeries.
The 14-times major champion announced on Monday on his website (www.tigerwoods.com) that his game was not sharp enough for him to compete in the PGA Tour event starting in Napa, California, on Thursday or the European Tour event in Turkey.
“After a lot of soul searching and honest reflection, I know that I am not yet ready to play on the PGA Tour or compete in Turkey,” he said. “My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be.”
Woods, 40, said the comeback delay was not due to back-related issues.
“I practiced the last several days in California, but after a lot of hours, I knew I wasn’t ready to compete against the best golfers in the world,” he said.
“I will continue to work hard, and plan to play at my foundation’s event, the Hero World Challenge, in Albany (Bahamas in December).”
His friend, former tour player Notah Begay, said Woods’ preparation had been hindered last week by Hurricane Matthew, which passed not far offshore from his south Florida residence.
“We had a candid conversation this morning and he was extremely disappointed,” Begay said on Golf Channel.
“He has a standard of performance like no one else and he just doesn’t feel like it’s ready.
“At the end of the day, the player has to feel comfortable with the skill set that they take to the first tee.
“(He was) trying maybe to get out of the starting blocks a little too soon. In order to hit this window at Safeway, everything had to fall in place and at this point it didn’t.”
Begay said Woods was optimistic about the state of his game before taking a week off from his preparation to be an assistant captain on the victorius United States team at the Ryder Cup.
“His game was starting to progress and mature and move in the right direction,” Begay said.
“I’ve been there, trying to cram it in at the last minute.
“It’s definitely nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a natural progression a lot of players face, the subtle precisions you have to have in the in-between shots.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris)