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What next for Woods after Genesis Invitational withdrawal?

It was a sight no-one wanted to see. After six holes of his second round at the Genesis Invitational, Tiger Woods was seen being driven away on a buggy, head in his hands, due to being forced to withdraw from the tournament.

Up to that point, the 48-year-old had shot one-over-par in the first round of the tournament he hosts on behalf of his TGR Foundation, and was one-over for the round in the second following back-to-back bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes.

The PGA Tour Signature Event at Riviera Country Club had been Woods’ return to action for the year in 2023 as well, when he tied for fifth and finished one-under, but this time illness brought about a premature end to his challenge.

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Dame Laura Davies saw enough to believe that Tiger Woods could win a tournament this year despite having to withdraw from the Genesis Invitational due to illness

Dame Laura Davies understood why Woods attempted to keep going despite coming down with symptoms which provided debilitating enough to stop him from completing his round and was relieved his withdrawal was not caused by lingering physical issues from his 2021 car accident.

“Tiger obviously knew [he was ill] but didn’t let on because great players like Tiger don’t want excuses,” four-time major winner Davies, who believes Woods was well-placed to make the cut in the 120-player tournament, told Sky Sports Golf.

“The fact he didn’t feel well overwhelmed him in the end, though he was playing quite nicely, hitting lots of fairways. The good thing is it’s not the back, it’s not the leg, and it just seems like not well.

“When you’re struggling physically anyway, that’s just too much, even for someone like him. He doesn’t want to do long-term damage in not feeling well and making a mess of things out there because of that. Even as good as he is, you don’t want to put big numbers up.

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Tiger Woods had to withdraw from the Genesis Invitational halfway through the second round due to illness

“I actually think, if he had been fit, he’d have probably made the cut; the cut was one-over at the time, and he was two-over when he had to withdraw.”

Woods was playing alongside Gary Woodland, who had been granted an exemption by the tournament host, at the time of his withdrawal and his playing partner was saddened by what transpired.

Woodland had been impressed by what he has seen from Woods as far as how he was performing prior to the illness becoming too bad for him to continue though.

“You want the game to talk and unfortunately he wasn’t able to do that,” Woodland said. “I feel for him because I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.

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Highlights from Tiger Woods’ first round at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Golf Course

“I hope he gets back. His game looked right, his putting was nice, speed’s up for sure. His game’s going to be in a good spot.”

Woods’ opening round had been a mixed one, starting with a birdie and carding four more, but also made six bogeys and suffered an uncharacteristic shank on the final fairway as the result of a back spasm.

Nevertheless, Davies saw enough from Woods’ overall performance to suggest, fitness permitting, he can get his overall game into shape to put him in contention to be competing at the sharp end of tournaments in 2024.

“The way we saw him driving it on Thursday, he was scrappy, he dropped five shots – very un-Tiger-like – and he’d already dropped a couple [on Friday before withdrawing],” Davies said.

“If he can drive it like that all the time, we know his irons will come around. They have been a little bit loose. Putting’s been great; he’s still holing those very important five, 10-footers. A lot of them were for pars yesterday and he made them.

“I think, if he is going to be fit – and it looked like the signs for that are good with his body – then I think we’ve got lots to look forward to. Without a doubt he will win this year – if he stays fit.”

Woods’ next tournament appearance is likely to be The Players Championship around the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass from March 14-17, with the former world No 1 previously stating his aim to play one tournament a month.

He issued a statement on social media on following his withdrawal from the Genesis Invitational stating he was already on the road to recovery from that bout of influenza, and prior to the start of the tournament had made clear his intent to keep competing for as long as possible.

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Tiger Woods reflected on his first round at the Genesis Invitational and revealed he had a back spasm during his shanked approach on the last hole of the day

“I still love competing, I love playing, I love being a part of the game of golf,” Woods said.

“This is the game of a lifetime, and I don’t ever want to stop playing. I love being able to compete, I love being able to enjoy different conversations from across time.

“This game, I love that, and I don’t ever want to lose that.”

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