Tiger Woods has withdrawn from his planned comeback at this week’s Safeway Open, saying he is not yet ready to compete.
Woods confirmed he would not play either in California this week, or in the Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour in November as he continues his recovery from back problems.
“After a lot of soul searching and honest reflection, I know that I am not yet ready to play on the PGA TOUR or compete in Turkey,” Woods said on his website. “My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be.”
Woods, who has had three operations on his back in the space of 19 months, officially entered the PGA Tour event a few hours before last Friday’s 5pm deadline as he looked to make his first competitive appearance since August 2015.
The 14-time major winner said last month he intended to play the Safeway Open, the Turkish Airlines Open and the Hero World Challenge – which is hosted by his own foundation – in the Bahamas, but has now said his game is not ready.
He said: “When I announced last week I was going to Safeway, I had every intention of playing, or I wouldn’t have committed.
“I spent a week with the US Ryder Cup Team, an honour and experience that inspired me even more to play.
“I practised the last several days in California, but after a lot of hours, I knew I wasn’t ready to compete against the best golfers in the world. I will continue to work hard, and plan to play at my foundation’s event, the Hero World Challenge, in Albany.
“I would like to apologise and send my regrets to Safeway, the Turkish Airlines Open, the fans in California and Turkey and those that had hoped to watch me compete on TV. This isn’t what I wanted to happen, but I will continue to strive to be able to play tournament golf. I’m close, and I won’t stop until I get there.”
Woods, the former world number one who is now ranked 786th, has not won on the PGA Tour since the Bridgestone Invitational in 2013.
The 40-year-old recently served as a vice-captain to Davis Love as the United States won the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine and will perform the same role for Steve Stricker at the 2017 Presidents Cup, if he fails to make the team.