All right, it’s the million-dollar question every golf fan wants to know: Will Tiger Woods play in the PGA Championship this week?
“I can’t tell you for sure, but if he hasn’t withdrawn by now, there’s probably a good chance he’s on his way up here (to Louisville) at some point to give it a go,” Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay said on The Morning Show. “And it’s not 100 percent sure even if he shows up on the grounds that he will tee it up tomorrow. You just never know with backs. I battled a bad back for a good decade here on the tour. He can take a swing out there this afternoon if he’s playing, and if something goes wrong like it did this weekend, he (could be) back on the jet tonight back home.”
Woods did receive a registration extension for the PGA Championship and has until 8:35 a.m. on Thursday to make his final decision.
Begay, who was Woods’ teammate at Stanford, spoke with Woods this week about his health and mental state after withdrawing from the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, on Sunday.
“We shot texts back and forth yesterday afternoon,” Begay said. “I just always like to see how he’s feeling coming out of surgeries or injuries. It’s unfortunate we’ve probably been talking more about injury and being hurt than we have been about golf. (He’s feeling) a lot of discomfort. (He’s) trying to find ways to deal with that kind of issue – and Tiger’s used to it because he’s been battling it now for almost a year. You just try to find ways to do things that can help you recuperate so you can get better. He has his team in there getting soft-tissue treatment and icing and heat and he’s got a hyperbaric chamber in his house that he lays in for a couple hours to try to expedite the healing process. So I know he’s been utilizing just about anything and everything that’s out there to try and get himself on the course this week.”
Regardless of Woods’ status, Rory McIlroy, who won the Open Championship, will be the favorite heading into this weekend. McIlroy won the PGA Championship in 2012 and appears to be at the top of his game right now. There are many theories – both personal and professional – as to why that is, but what’s Begay’s take on it?
“I think it has to do with a couple of things,” Begay said before delving into McIlroy’s break-up with Caroline Wozniacki. “Anybody that’s ever planned a wedding, especially a wedding that big, knows how big of a headache that can be. You certainly don’t like to talk much about athletes’ personal lives, but the fact that that isn’t on the table anymore is a lot that he doesn’t have to think about on a daily basis. I don’t think there’s any question about his ability (to perform) once he got passed that. He went out and won his very first tournament – the BMW Championship at Wentworth – the very week that he broke off his (engagement). That was an indication that maybe he had a little bit of a clearer mind.”
“We’ve always known Rory to be a big talent,” Begay continued, “and I think he’s just kind of coming into his own right now. There’s a big opportunity for someone to go and be the main player in golf, and he wants to be that player. He certainly has demonstrated that ability to take control of these tournaments and be the man to beat every week.”