Tiger Woods has already missed one major in 2014, and if what we’re hearing is true, he will likely miss another.
One of Woods’ close friends – former pro and current Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay III – has had similar nerve damage in his back, and he knows it’s not easy to bounce back from that.
“It’s like just having a constant toothache for 24 hours a day,” Begay said on The Morning Show. “You can’t sleep. You can’t really get comfortable in any position – seated or lying down. I think he’s just at the point where something needed to be done.”
Woods, of course, is recovering from back surgery and did not play in the Masters.
“I’ve been in contact with him this week,” Begay said. “He missed being at Augusta and certainly was watching the tournament, (but) I think he needs to give (his back) a minimum of 90 days to make sure that scar tissue heals up appropriately and he doesn’t run the risk of re-injuring it. So that would push him past the U.S. Open.”
The U.S. Open is scheduled for June 12-15 at Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Begay, 41, said that Woods, 38, is becoming increasingly cognizant of his mortality as a golfer.
“Oh, definitely,” Begay said. “He’s well aware of that. It’s certainly not a big secret. It’s not something that he’s trying to ignore. He realizes that he’s approaching 40.”
At this point, there are two records Woods is interested in: most PGA Tour wins and most major championships.
“He only needs four more to surpass that,” Begay said, referring to the number of PGA Tour wins, “(so) that’s pretty much a lock based on (his health).”
Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, however, is going to be much tougher.
“(That’s a) little bit more locked considering (Woods) hasn’t won a major since 2008,” Begay said. “The window’s closing. He’s much closer to the end of his career. I think a lot of people’s eyes were opened this week with just how much Phil Mickleson struggled. (We all know) how much he prepares for the Masters, and he wants to be in peak physical condition and he wants his game to be clicking on all cylinders. And he just went out there and he really struggled.”
Mickelson, in fact, missed the Masters cut on Friday.
“I don’t anticipate that happening to Tiger for quite some time,” Begay said, “but there’s a time and place where the game just decides it’s not your game anymore.”
While Woods sat and Mickelson struggled, Bubba Watson dominated Augusta National, winning his second green jacket in three years. Watson, 35, shot a final-round 69 for a three-shot win over Jordan Spieth, who, at 20, was seeking to become the youngest player to ever win the Masters.
“It had a Woodsian feel,” Begay said of Watson’s performance. “He just dominated the golf course. I don’t know what Tiger’s going to be like when he comes back, but Bubba Watson will probably be the favorite heading into next year’s Masters.”