Perhaps the strongest hint that Tiger Woods will return to compete at the Masters has arrived from his sponsors. On Monday, Nike revealed the clothing Woods is scheduled to wear during the first major of the season, which starts on 9 April.
Woods has not played since withdrawing midway through the Farmers Insurance Open in February. Although he had been struggling with injury, the 14-times major winner also has flaws in his game. Woods later insisted he would not reappear until his golf was “tournament ready”.
Nike’s preview has triggered speculation over whether this is a nod to Woods’s Augusta participation. There are alternative theories – the sponsor may have wanted to keep Woods visible, as part of their roster, and outfits for other Nike players, such as Rory McIlroy, were also revealed.
Or Nike may be no clearer than the rest of us as to Woods’s immediate future. He is notoriously private about his plans. Masters confirmation either way surely cannot be too far away.
Woods is due to wear various patterns of white, black, grey and red shirts should he restart his bid to move one closer to Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors. A somewhat garish pair of red golf shoes also formed part of the fashion shoot.
“It would be wonderful to see him back playing the golf we all know he can play at Augusta,” Clarke said. “He is struggling a bit with his fitness and his game. But when you are having to make changes due to your body it is difficult because you are making an unnatural movement and that’s the problem.
“With some of the scores he’s had, it’s not the Tiger we know. I think all of us would like to see him back playing the way we know he can play.
“I don’t think we should be too hasty to write him off because he’s gone through so many swing changes in the past and managed to prove people wrong. He’s one of the best players that’s ever played the game and we tend to forget that a bit too quickly.
“Due to Rory coming along and Jordan Spieth playing so well, people are saying ‘Tiger’s done, he’s finished’, but I wouldn’t be quite as quick to write him off as he’s a special man. He’s four years younger than me when I won a major. You can’t be as good as he was then lose it all.”
This article was written by Ewan Murray, for theguardian.com on Monday 23rd March 2015 23.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010