Tiger Woods insists he is making progress on his recovery from yet more back trouble, although there does not appear to be any set timetable for a return to competitive golf.
The former world number one, previously sidelined for 17 months in the aftermath of three surgeries, missed The Masters for the third time in four years earlier this month and declared that he was not "tournament-ready". Hopes were initially high that he would be in a position to compete at Augusta, having been forced to withdraw from both the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic after pulling out of February's Dubai Desert Classic due to back spasms.
Woods hit two public shots on Tuesday (18 April) – the first of which found water – at an event to announce that golf course design firm TGR Design would be building their first United States-based public links, Payne's Valley, in the Ozark Mountains near Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri.
Questioned regarding his health during a subsequent news conference, a pragmatic Woods replied: "The back is progressing. I have good days and bad days. I've had three back operations and that's just kind of the nature of the business unfortunately. That's all I can say."
Woods finished 15th on his return to action at the Hero World Challenge foundation benefit in December 2016 and subsequently missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open. He managed to play one round in Dubai, failing to record a single birdie while shooting a disappointing 5-over 77.
"I have no timetable for my return, but I will continue my diligent effort to recover, and want to get back out there as soon as possible," the 41-year-old said after announcing his Masters decision.
According to close friend and Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay III, Woods, now ranked at a lowly 788th, could feature in the next major of the year, June's US Open at Erin Hills, provided he is able to test his back with a couple of tournament appearances beforehand.
"[The Masters] probably wouldn't have been the best place for Tiger to start the year out after this most recent setback, and I think we should probably look, maybe something just after The Players Championship," he said during a recent appearance on The Rich Eisen Show.
"Oh, [the US Open] a definite possibility. That's probably the event that's circled on his calendar, but he's got to at least get one or two starts in before that to see where his body, where his game's at and if he can hit the shots he wants to hit."