Woods at least learned one lesson. After he injured his Achilles at the Masters last year, he returned a month later at The Players Championship even though some in his camp thought he should have waited another month to be sure he was fine.
He hopes to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, which starts March 22, his last tournament before the Masters.
"In the past, I may have tried to continue to play," Woods said Sunday. "But this time, I decided to do what I thought was necessary."
Still, each injury makes him look more mortal.
And even if Woods is a "normal" 36, the competition is getting younger. Maybe it was just the magic of television, but when NBC Sports turned its camera from Woods driving away from Doral, it returned to McIlroy holing a bunker shot for eagle on the 12th hole as Boy Wonder came from eight shots down and nearly won.
In 12 tournaments on the PGA Tour this year, nine of the winners have been younger than Woods.
McIlroy was playing in the group behind Woods when he saw him get in a cart with his caddie, Joe LaCava. He thought Woods might have been going to use the restroom, discovering moments later what had happened.
"It's a shame, because he looked like he was coming out this year, swinging it really well, playing good, getting himself into contention," McIlroy said. "It's probably just precautionary, but I really hope he's ready for the Masters. Tiger Woods has been the face of golf for the last 15 years. Feeling like he's coming back to his best, or something near his best, it's great for the game.
"He can spark an interest in the game that no one else can."
Woods can only raise interest if he's playing, though. And the interest spikes when he's winning.
Right now, he's not doing either.
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