(Reuters) - Arnold Palmer said on Thursday Tiger Woods will be “dangerous” at next month’s Masters but acknowledged that doubts surround the health of the 14-times major champion.
Woods withdrew from this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida, a tournament he has won a mind-boggling eight times, citing back spasms that plagued him in the two tournaments he played earlier in March.
“I’ve talked to him (and) he was a little worried about how quick he can recover from this,” Palmer, who hosts this week’s event at Orlando’s Bay Hill Golf Club, told Golf Channel. “But once you have a problem like that and have to withdraw, there’s always that doubt whether you can get it back where you want it.
“I would say there’s a good chance he’ll be 100 percent for Augusta, but you never know.”
Golf Week, citing an unnamed source, said on its website that Woods has been diagnosed with a bulging disc in his back. The player has not commented on the report.
World number one Woods is not expected to play before the April 10-13 Masters at Augusta National, which means he will enter the year’s first major without having competed in over a month.
Palmer, affectionately nicknamed ‘The King’ and a winner of 62 PGA Tour titles in his illustrious career, believes Woods would have been helped by a pre-Masters gallop at a course he has dominated.
“He’ll be there and he’ll be dangerous whatever happens (but) playing Bay Hill would have helped him because he likes the golf course,” said Palmer, 84.
“He can swing where he knows he wants the ball to go and that’s important. It gives him the confidence he would need for Augusta.”
Woods has won the Masters four times, but not since 2005, though he has been in contention several times.
The 38-year-old has made no secret of his desire to win more majors than anyone in history. He is four shy of the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus.
Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue