Following a more than four-month absence since last teeing it up at the 2022 Open Championship at St. Andrews, Tiger Woods was expected to return to the course this week at the 2022 Hero World Challenge, which his foundation hosts. Instead, Woods has been forced to withdraw from his own event and delay his return to golf due to an injured right foot.
"In my preparation and practice for this week's Hero World Challenge, I've developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot, which is making it difficult ot walk," Woods explained. "After consulting with my doctors and trainers, I have decided to withdraw this week and focus on my hosting duties."
Sepp Straka, who is ranked No. 29 in the world, will replace Woods at the event, bumping the number of top 30 players in the field up from 17 to 18.
Though the injury is to the same leg that was surgically repaired in a February 2021 car wreck, it is not known whether stress on that joint caused the plantar fasciitis.
The Hero World Challenge was the first of three events in which Woods was expected to play before the conclusion of 2022. Woods still plans to team with Rory McIlroy against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in the latest iteration of The Match on Dec. 10, and he also expects to be healthy enough to team with his son, Charlie, in the 2022 PNC Championship beginning Dec. 17.
The Hero World Challenge is a small-field, no-cut tournament that will include Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler and last year's champion Viktor Hovland in Woods' absence.
December was going to be a particularly busy month for the 15-time major winner. After playing just nine competitive rounds all year, he was slated to play in seven over the next three weeks. Now that number is down to three -- the 12-hole match with McIlroy, Thomas and Spieth in which carts will be used and two 18-hole rounds with Charlie in Orlando in which Tiger used a cart a year ago.
In the long term, this is not incredibly notable. Woods' recovery, even after playing three majors in 2022, was always going to be up and down with constant stops and starts. This likely doesn't even change the expectations for how many times we see him in 2023. It is expected that he will play most if not all of the major championships and, as he has stated in the past, perhaps tick off another tournament or two here or there.