The distinct possibility — even probability — exists that Tiger Woods will not compete in this year’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
It will not be because Woods doesn’t want to. He definitely does. It will be because he doesn’t qualify.
Basically, so far this season, Woods has played himself out of a spot in the WGC event, and now he is hard-pressed to play himself back into it. And this is an event he has won seven times at various courses, and as recently as two years ago at Trump National Doral.
What does Tiger have to do to make his way into Doral and the prestigious WGC tournament that will be played March 5-8 on the Blue Monster course? Basically, he has to move from No. 56 in the world rankings to No. 50 before the tournament.
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Tournament officials aren’t supposed to root for individual players, but forgive Butch Buchholz, the tournament chairman for Doral, who knows Tiger’s status for Doral is questionable.
“We certainly are on the Tiger Watch,” Buchholz said. “In fact, it’s a big-time Tiger Watch out here. He’s still the most recognized name in the sport. He’s absolutely still the most-followed golfer. He’s the greatest golfer of this era and nobody delivers a crowd more than Tiger Woods. We would greet him with open arms — big open arms — if he makes it.”
Right now, there is plenty of doubt about Woods’ game.
During last week’s Phoenix Open, Tiger’s second round included an 8-over 44 on one of his nines, which is the stuff of Sunday hackers, and that led to the worst round of Woods’ professional career, an 11-over-par 82. He couldn’t drive the ball well, and his chipping was nothing short of atrocious.
Woods didn’t come close to making the cut at Phoenix, missing it by 12 shots. His 82 was the highest score on the PGA Tour this season. And that performance from a person who was the world’s No. 1 eight months ago, and won the Cadillac Championship less than two years ago.
Woods has two tournaments tentatively left on his schedule before Doral — the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego on February 5-8 and the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens on Feb. 26-March 1. It would be in those two tournaments he needs to make his move into the top 50 to make the Doral field.
Getting into the WGC-Cadillac can be obtained in various ways, according to the PGA, World Championships and Doral organizations. They are: Top 50 in world rankings after Feb. 23 and March 2 (Woods can still obtain those with winning or strong performances in his final two scheduled tournaments), the top 30 in FedEx Cup points at the end of 2014 (Woods did not obtain that status), or the top 10 in the FedEx points list as of March 2 (unlikely for Woods after his start this season, and if he did somehow achieve this he would also move into the Top 50 in world rankings and qualify for Doral).