Despite being forced to withdraw from the WGC-Cadillac Championship with an Achilles injury, Tiger Woods is planning to play at Bay Hill. The Arnold Palmer Invitational begins on March 22, and Woods is hoping to be in action. The event would be his last before the Masters. Woods confirmed that the injury was a mild strain and the can start hitting balls soon. It certainly seems like good news for the golfer.
However, we might not know how serious anything is until we see him on the golf course. It is anything but automatic that he will be ready for the next tournament.
The recent injury history for Woods is well known. It has become so serious that every time we hear him say something hurts, our thoughts immediately turn to him missing time. The last time he withdrew from a tournament was at the Players Championship in May. Woods ended up missing significant time after that, including two majors. Things seem more promising this time but there is reason to be skeptical. He will have to walk the course for four rounds before people believe he is 100-percent healthy.
Despite the fact that he has missed several tournaments over the last few years, Woods hasn't missed the Masters since before he was a professional. It is the one major where he seems to contend every year. After a decent finish to the 2011 season, people were pointing at Augusta as the official comeback point for Tiger Woods. Obviously, that won't happen if he isn't healthy. Even though he says he feels better, the Masters without golf's biggest star is a very real possibility.
I have a hunch that Woods will skip Bay Hill. It would be great for him to get one more tournament in so that he can tune up for the year's first major. However, Woods is smart enough to know the risks of playing. If he aggravates the injury, that is it for him at Augusta. If his Achilles is just strained, an additional two weeks of rest could make a world of difference. It is nice to hear he wants to play and it does erase some doubt about his status for the Masters. At this point, the risk outweighs the reward for the golfer. He is better off staying home and getting ready for the biggest event of the year.* - Mark Paul is an avid golf fan. He has watched and played the game since high school.