Doubts once again hang over Tiger Woods after he withdraws from two events

USA TODAY Sports’ Steve DiMeglio examines Woods’ decision to sit out two more events, and wonders if we’ll ever see the aging golf legend play at an elite level again.


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — All looked good in the Bahamas two months ago.

The sun was out and Tiger Woods looked healthy, strong and energetic as he made his latest return to the game following two surgeries to his back in the fall. In a mixed bag of results, he made far too many little mistakes but gave hope going forward by making 24 birdies in the Hero World Challenge.

Seven weeks later amid palpable buzz, Woods, in his first PGA Tour event in nearly 18 months, missed the cut in the Farmers Insurance Open but gave no indication that his back was a roadblock in his return to the PGA Tour.

Then he flew halfway across the globe to the Middle East two days later and the winner of 79 Tour titles looked much older than 41, walking gingerly and swinging poorly en route to a first-round 77 in the Dubai Desert Classic. Back spasms forced him to withdraw the next day, with his agent, Mark Steinberg, saying the latest setback did not have anything to do with nerve issues in his back that have plagued him.


Welcome to the new normal as his future in professional golf was again unknown. Three back surgeries, four operations to his left knee and other numerous ailments, all while living under the burden of pressure and stardom, looked to have taken a lasting toll. It was at Dubai, after all, where Woods said for the first time this year that he’s searching for a swing to alleviate pain in his back.

On Friday morning, as dense fog descended on the Monterey Peninsula and delayed the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a release by Woods did not brighten the golf world’s day. A different haze has again began to hover over the PGA Tour…