At his annual press conference Wednesday at Bay Hill—a highlight of the season for many media members and golf fans—Arnold Palmer addressed Tiger Woods’ absence from his event and, in simple terms, the general status of the 14-time major champion’s game.
“This is an opinion I haven’t given to anybody, and that is he should do what he thinks he should do with his game,” said Palmer. “I think he should find a coach that he has confidence in and go work on his game.”
Palmer noted that he’s known Woods since he was “three feet high,” and broke down his advice to the 39-year-old into two key areas of focus.
“There’s only one thing I can say and that’s practice, and confidence,” said Palmer. “He has to regain the confidence he had when he was starting out and that was what made him what he is. And that’s the way he’ll get it back.”
Woods called Palmer last week to notify the tournament host of his inability to compete at Bay Hill. Despite reports that the two spoke for quite awhile, Palmer said, “Well, first of all, whoever told you it was an hour is full of s***,” which sent a ripple of laughter through the press room in typical Arnie fashion. “What I had to say was very little. Tiger did most of the talking.
“He said, ‘Arnold, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than be there to play,’ and he explained that he didn’t feel like his game was ready. He really wanted to work on it and get it ready to play and I don’t blame him. I think if I were in his position I would probably have said somewhat similar things.”
Woods has fallen to 87th in the Official World Golf Rankings and hasn’t played since he withdrew from the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open on Feb. 5. Some thought he would return for Bay Hill this weekend—a venue he’s won at eight times in his career—but he decided his game wasn’t ready.
Now the question is if the four-time Masters winner will be at Augusta come April.