Harmon, Stricker fear for Tiger’s golfing future

Scottsdale, AZ: One of his closest golfing colleagues and also his former long-time coach seriously now fear for the playing future of 14-time Major Champion, Tiger Woods.

Just when Woods seemed to be recovering from three separate back operations the long-time former World No. 1 finds himself hiding under an injury cloud after pulling out of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Tiger Woods Tiger Woods (Credit: Dubai Desert Classic)

Woods’ manager, Mark Steinberg indicated Friday that Woods had suffered back spasms as the reason for Woods not starting the second round.

And while Steinberg remarked Woods was encouraged the spasms were not related to nerve pain there is nonetheless concern Woods’ goal of being game-sharp for April’s Masters and beyond could now out of reach.

Steve Stricker remains one of Woods’ closest friends and confidant’s since the pair were grouped for the first two days of the 1997 Pebble Beach Pro-Am just a few months shy of Woods winning his first Major at Augusta.

Stricker, who joined Woods as a USA Vice-Captain at last year’s Ryder Cup, watched TV coverage of Woods opening 77 in Dubai and was really not surprised when it was announced Woods had withdrawn just hours before tee-off on Friday.

“I could see something wasn’t right just the way Tiger was moving around on Thursday as it was very un-Tiger like. He was walking around pretty gingerly and moving around a lot slower,” said Stricker after the first round of the Phoenix Open.

“There was something there that was not the Tiger we know, so it was unfortunate to hear that he had pulled out due to back spasms.”

“Even last week in San Diego, and unless he’s trying to do that on purpose, he wasn’t walking a little more upright and maybe trying to help relieve some of his back issues from the past or whatever.”

“But even there at Torrey Pines and also in Dubai, he was not the Tiger we know.”

Butch Harmon coached and help guided Woods from 1997 to 2004 to eight Major victories, 31 other PGA Tour titles and another dozen odd victories in Europe, Japan and Australia.

Harmon also agonised over Woods competing on Thursday in Dubai but says it’s not good sign that Woods failed to play all four rounds in his second week back to regular competition.

“It’s not really likely it’s going to happen,” said Harmon in an interview on SKY Sports.

“Number one, he’s 41-years old, he’s had three back surgeries, four knees surgeries and these young kids are playing better and better.”

“I would love to see him healthy and see him try and compete again but seeing him swing last week and then watching the swings he made this week in Dubai was not fun.”

“I am a big Tiger Woods fan but how much slower his torso and his body was through the ball. It’s almost like he couldn’t get through it.”

“His body would get around and it would stop and his hands would continue on. So are we ever going to see him play at the heights that he did back in the early 2000s?”

“Probably not.

“But I think right now, the main thing he has got to do is someway get healthy. He’s been off for 14 or 15 months. And he comes back and still can’t even finish a tournament.

“To me, that’s not a very good sign.”