Luke Donald says Tiger Woods may not be ready to return from a "mental standpoint" after he pulled out of his planned comeback.
Woods has undergone three back operations in the space of 19 months and has not played competitively since August last year, but was one of Davis Love’s vice-captains during a victorious Ryder Cup for the USA at Hazeltine.
The 40-year-old had planned to play at the Safeway Open in California this week and in the Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour in November, but despite saying his health was good, Woods claimed his game was vulnerable and opted to withdraw from the tournaments.
Former world No 1 Donald, who is hosting the British Masters this week, can sympathise with the 14-timea major winner after being sidelined with a career-threatening wrist injury in 2008.
He said: Obviously it sounds like clinically he feels fine. He’s just not quite ready to tee it up from a mental standpoint perhaps. That’s certainly what I gathered from his comments.
There’s a lot of mental anguish when you take time away. I think obviously Tiger, the greatest player that’s ever played, he’s got very, very high standards and expectations.
I think that you have to weigh that up with that feel of almost failure or fear or anxiety of not performing well. If Tiger Woods is healthy like he says he is, that’s probably what he’s weighing out right now, just feeling comfortable.
It’s really hard to get comfortable unless you actually put yourself through it. At some point he’s got to jump in, and if he messes up, he’s got a good opportunity to get better the next time he plays.
Chris Wood, who is also set to play at The Grove as part of the British Masters, saw Woods in person during the Ryder Cup and hopes this latest setback does not mark the end of his career.
He seemed fine at the Ryder Cup, but you never know with Tiger, Wood said. Nobody’s ever known, really, throughout his whole career what he really does golf-wise when he’s at home, practice-wise, gym, all that sort of thing. Nobody knows and [he] never gives on.
It’s really disappointing because I was ready to watch it and obviously it would have been great for the European Tour for him to play in Turkey in his second event back.
It is really disappointing for myself as a golf fan to not be able to sit down and watch him play, because he was my golfing hero. He won the Masters when I was 10 years old, so from that point on he’s the only guy I’ve ever looked up to really.
(c) Sky News 2016: Donald points to Tiger Woods’ mindset