— -- PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- So, here's what we know in the ever-evolving drama of As the Tiger (Can't Make Full) Turns:
Tiger Woods has a lingering back injury that is preventing him from playing the Genesis Open this week. As tournament host for the first time, he is on-site here at Riviera Country Club. His pretournament news conference, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was moved to Wednesday, then canceled altogether. The explanation given is that Woods has been "advised by doctors to limit all activities."
Those are the facts.
The rest is all conjecture.
Society's favorite party game these days is questioning authority. Camp Tiger might not be the authority, exactly, but it is the authority on all things Tiger -- and yes, there are plenty of questions being asked in light of recent developments.
Like this one: "Since when does a news conference count as activity?"
Or this: "You're telling me Woods was healthy enough to endure a cross-country flight, healthy enough to serve at least some of his responsibilities as tournament host, but not healthy enough to sit in a comfy chair and answer questions for 20 minutes?"
It is well within Woods' rights to decline an interview session, just as it's well within everyone else's rights to be skeptical of the rationale behind that decision.
Never a source of supplying too much information, Camp Tiger probably would've been better off simply announcing that his news conference was canceled, rather than offering the hollow explanation about his health.
The truth might be that Woods doesn't want the world to examine and analyze his gait while walking into the interview room, or his comfort level while answering questions.
It might be that he doesn't want to offer vague estimations of when he might return, or detailed explanations about the prognosis.
It might be that he doesn't want to repeatedly hear questions about whether he ever has or currently is considering retirement from his competitive career.
It might be a combination of all of these things.
We can examine the facts and draw our own conclusions, make our own speculations, offer our own suppositions. What we actually know, though -- the facts -- remains very limited.
This one is more opinion than fact, but it can hardly be debated: Withdrawing from a news conference due to injury is next-level sad.
This is a guy who not only used to dominate his fellow competitors inside the ropes, but was similarly commanding during interview sessions with the media, dealing with the toughest questions like they were uphill 2-footers for par.
The fact that Woods is now evading these questions -- if we're not buying the excuse about doctor's advice -- could speak to his bewilderment toward the future. In the past, he would nonchalantly wave off inquiries about his long-term physical health by compartmentalizing them into specific injuries, each of which could heal with enough recovery and recuperation time.
Even when his situation appeared dire, he would be reticent to admit it in real-time. Case in point: It wasn't until more than a year after his third back surgery that he admitted, two months ago prior to his return at the Hero World Challenge, he wasn't sure if he'd ever compete again.
Other players are eminently more transparent. On Tuesday, No. 1-ranked Jason Day philosophized about his own long-term abilities.
"I've been playing plagued by some injuries in my career, but I feel like I've taken the correct steps to hopefully get rid of those injuries in the future," he explained. "Once again, they can pop up at any time, but the good thing about myself right now is that I haven't gone under the knife. Once you go under the knife, you can't take that back. You've been cut up and they've done stuff to you. So hopefully I can stay healthy and get to 40."
Day was talking about himself and about Woods, all at the same time. It should be noted that Woods recently turned 41, a year past the point Day hopes his career can someday reach.
Perhaps similar thoughts are rattling around in Woods' mind again right now, keeping him from speaking publicly for fear of admitting the unknown. Or maybe he really is too pained to sit through a news conference, listening to doctor's orders about any activity.
It's all conjecture, just another chapter in this ongoing drama.