Tiger Woods’ professional career remains unclear after a serious car accident and golf’s most recognizable figure continues to take a break from public appearances. According to reports this week, Woods turned down a chance to be part of NBC’s broadcast of the upcoming U.S. Open, presumably to avoid being a distraction from the action.
Woods is recovering from his Feb. 23 car crash that forced him to undergo emergency surgery on his leg. His presence in the broadcast booth would almost certainly help raise the profile of the tournament.
“Yeah, in fact, that’s exactly the line that I was thinking and we were all thinking is how good that would be, who better, if he couldn’t be there to play it, to voice it and have him a part of the show. But we were rebuffed,” NBC sportscaster Dan Hicks said on a media call when asked if anyone contacted Woods about being a part of the coverage.
“He didn’t want to do it, and I totally understand his situation. There is a lot going on in his world right now and there’s also a part of Tiger that doesn’t want to become this … ‘sideshow’ at an event where we should be concentrating on what’s happening.”
Since his accident, Woods has kept a quiet profile. His Twitter account in recent weeks included congratulations to Phil Mickelson on his PGA Championship win and also noted the accomplishments of his foundation.
But pictures and videos of Woods have been scarce. On April 23, his Instagram page showed an image of him on crutches with his foot in a walking boot and with his dog at his Jupiter Island Practice Facility. “My course is coming along faster than I am. But it’s nice to have a faithful rehab partner, man’s best friend,” the caption reads.
He had returned to his home in Florida after three weeks in the hospital and recently told Golf Digest that his top goal right now is walking on his own. Woods wouldn’t comment on if or when he might golf again.
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker has invited Woods to join the team as a vice-captain in September. Woods wouldn’t commit either way.
Hicks also touched on how it was understandable to Woods to step out of the limelight.
“Also, I really believe that if you said yes to something, it would just be a non-stop parade of asks, and he would have to just, you know, start telling everybody no,” Hicks said. “So, yeah, it would have been fantastic to have Tiger a part of it in that sense, but I understand that what’s going on in his world that he wanted to kind of keep it low key and stay out of the limelight for this one and just hopefully he’ll enjoy it at home watching it on TV and be inspired when we talk about what he did 13 years ago and that’s the best we can hope for.”
The 2008 U.S. Open was the 14th major victory of Woods’ career, and he seemed well on pace to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. Woods’ quest for history was derailed by serious back injuries, and it took him nearly 11 years to win his 15th major. There’s a good chance that Woods’ 2019 Masters victory will be his final first-place finish on the PGA Tour.
The U.S. Open is the third major of the year and is scheduled for June 17-20. NBC will have coverage of the U.S. Open from Torrey Pines in San Diego. Woods last won the major in 2008.