Some wonder if Mickelson’s absence is self-imposed, if Woods will do more than attend the champions dinner at Augusta.
When will Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods return?
With the biggest event of the 2022 calendar year so far next week at The Players, most everyone that is anyone in golf will be competing for the $20 million purse, except Mickelson and Woods.
Contemporary Charles Howell III said he could never have envisioned a time when Woods would not play, believing that when that day came, the PGA Tour would be in trouble.
But with massive purses of more than $800 million in 2022 and young players, showing up on a weekly basis, professional golf and especially the PGA Tour is as healthy as ever.
Yet, fans still clamor for their heroes, chief among them Mickelson and Woods.
Mickelson has disappeared from public view following some unfortunate comments made to an author that were written in a story in late February. Mickelson left few impressed with his comments concerning the people of Saudi Arabia, the PGA Tour and its commissioner, Jay Monahan, or the proposed Saudi golf league.
The comments were considered so egregious, that Mickelson lost some of his major sponsors, including accounting and consulting firm KPMG, Amstel Light and Workday, a software development company. His long-term relationship with equipment maker Callaway was put on pause.
Mickelson released a mea culpa statement admitting, among other things, he has made mistakes in his life and desperately needs some time away from the game. Some believe that Mickelson’s absence is self-imposed and others speculate he has been suspended by the PGA Tour, which does not comment about its disciplinary actions.
If suspension is the case, it seems extremely unlikely that Monahan would have the means necessary to insist that the Masters enforce its rules. The Masters, as its officials always remind us, is an invitational
Whichever the reason for his absence, the question remains: When will Mickelson return?
Woods isn’t out of the public eye but he’s not playing tournament golf after a near fatal car accident in February last year. Since then, speculation has swirled around when and where he will return.
Most people believe that since Woods has returned injuries in the past, that he would do the same this time.
Of course, his age, 46 and the extent of the injuries that includes multiple leg injuries, a shattered ankle, compound fracture, and nearly lose his leg completely make it difficult to determine when Woods will return
“I wish I could tell you when I’m playing again,” Woods said at the Genesis Invitational. “I want to know, but I don’t. My golf activity has been very limited.” He has admitted his right leg looks different from his left and that will not change.
Woods played the PNC Championship in December, a 36-hole event in which his partner was his son, Charlie. But he used a golf cart and was on his feet as little as possible. Tiger has talked about not being able to practice as much as he’d like and he’s still working on walking long distances. No matter how desperate the fans and media are to see Woods back inside the ropes, he has made it clear he is far away from walking 18 holes a day.
Remarkably, some people still believe Woods will be at the Masters and not just for the champions dinner.
Mickelson’s return would seem to be pegged to Augusta and that seems to make the most sense, except that seven of the last 10 Masters, Mickelson played the week before, which means the odds are if Mickelson is going to return to compete at the Masters, he would likely play the week before, which is the Valero Texas Open.
It seems unlikely if Mickelson can walk on two legs that he won’t be at the first major of the year, which is, by far, his favorite.
If you listen to Woods and read between the lines his first competitive event seems months away from Augusta in April and likely not in 2022, but Woods has come back earlier than expected before, but he also was as adamant about his health and future.
“It’s the competitive nature, how much that takes out of you mentally, physically, emotionally,” Woods said of playing competitive golf again. “I haven’t prepared for any of that. Going for a walk, I can do that. Am I going to be sore? Hell, yeah, but I can do that.”