Masters countdown ticks fast for Tiger
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As the clock counts down for the April 9-12 Masters, fans, players and medical experts continue to speculate on whether a shockingly out-of-sorts Tiger Woods will be able to compete at the year's opening major.
Woods missed the Masters last year for the first time in his career after being advised by doctors to have back surgery and his participation in the 2015 edition is in serious doubt given his struggle for form and fitness this season.
The former world number one, whose ranking has stunningly slipped to 70th, has competed only twice on the 2014-15 PGA Tour and said he would not return to the circuit until he felt his game was "tournament-ready".
Time, however, is not on his side should the 39-year-old be contemplating a comeback ahead of the Masters at Augusta National where he is a four-times champion.
Not only is his game in complete disarray, with some pundits believing that he is suffering from the chipping 'yips', but his troublesome back is still posing problems.
A winner of 14 major titles, Woods struggled dismally in his first two tournaments this year.
He posted the highest score of his professional career, while looking more like a struggling amateur than the greatest player of his generation, as he carded a mind-boggling 11-over-par 82 to miss the cut at the Phoenix Open last month.
He was not much better three weeks ago at Torrey Pines where he was two over par after 11 holes when he decided to pull out because of tightness in his back, his third withdrawal in his last nine starts. Continued...