Struggling Woods shuts it down

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Struggling Woods shuts it down

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Tiger Woods misplays a short iron approach to the far right of the 13th hole on the north course at Torrey Pines in San Diego on Feb. 5.[AP/NEWSIS]

Tiger Woods said Wednesday his game is “not acceptable,’’ and he will return to competition when he thinks it is.

Woods shot a career-high 82 in the second round of the Phoenix Open to miss the cut by 12 shots. Then he withdrew after 11 holes of ordinary golf at Torrey Pines because of tightness in his back after a fog delay.

Woods said on his website the last two weeks have been disappointing, especially at Torrey Pines, where he is an eight-time winner. He said he never wants to withdraw, but recent injuries have allowed that to happen too often.

Woods said his latest injury was not related to the back surgery he had last spring, and that he is feeling better every day with physical therapy.

“Right now, I need a lot of work on my game and to still spend time with the people who are important to me,’’ he said. “My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf. Like I’ve said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.’’

He said he wants to play the Honda Classic, which starts Feb. 26, but he won’t be there unless his game is tournament ready. “That’s not fair to anyone,’’ said Woods. “I do, however, expect to be playing again very soon.’’

Ernie Els, who has known Woods longer than any other active PGA Tour player, heard about his woes while playing in Dubai and later saw highlights.

“As competitive as we are, we don’t want to see anyone suffer like that,’’ said Els, who has finished second to Woods more than any other player. “We’ve got to do our stuff in public. I don’t care if you’re Tiger Woods, Ernie Els or whoever. If you have some error in your game, you get exposed.’’

Woods, the winner of 79 PGA Tour events and 14 majors, has never looked this bad on the golf course. He had back surgery to relieve a pinched nerve a week before the Masters and missed three months (including the first two majors). Then he took four months off at the end of last year to regain strength and allow his back to fully heal.

He also hired a new swing consultant and embarked on the fifth swing change of his career.

His chipping was bad at the 18-man Hero World Challenge at Isleworth in December, when he tied for last. His chipping looked even worse at the Phoenix Open, a collection of shots that he either flubbed short or bladed across the green.

Woods is No. 62 in the world, his lowest ranking since before he won his first PGA Tour event in 1996.

“I am committed to getting back to the pinnacle of my game,’’ he said.

AP




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