Woods was trying desperately to find some form, and he seemed encouraged on the eve of the Doral tournament. But by Sunday, he was walking slowly, and early in the round he played a shot from an awkward lie that clearly had him in discomfort.
Finally we learned that he had a pinched nerve, and microdiscectomy surgery was performed Monday to alleviate the issue. He could be putting and chipping in three weeks, and while the U.S. Open would appear to be a long shot, who knows?
For Woods, he can point to a good success rate among other athletes who have had the surgery. He doesn't have to tackle anyone, or box out under the boards, but he does need the ability to swing a golf club at more than 100 mph. Doing so with any consistency with a back problem was proving to be a frustrating plight.
This year might be a loss, but better to get healthy and give it a go later. Snead's record of 82 career PGA Tour victories remains in sight, and while Nicklaus' 18 major championships were going to be a difficult achievement with or without back issues, there is nothing that says Woods can't again resume the quest at age 39.
You know that's what he is thinking.