Dr. David Chao: Tiger Woods To Play Or Not To Play In Masters?

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Augusta is abuzz with Tiger Woods on the scene. The excitement of the return of the GOAT is in the air. However, is that feeling premature?

Sure Tiger has been all smiles, his caddie has been optimistic, and clearly public opinion is that he is playing. Medically, we are not so confident.

There is no question that Woods can play golf at a high level and beat 99.9% of the world, but can he compete at the top of the PGA Tour? Even Tiger has his doubts, labeling himself a “game-time decision.”

The bigger issue is whether he can walk the course for four straight days and more with his right ankle/foot issues. Anyone who has visited Augusta National will tell you how hilly the course is. Yes, Tiger has golfed and walked the course this last week but not on consecutive days. On Monday, he golfed only the back nine.

Woods’ college teammate, Casey Martin, actually sued the PGA Tour over cart use and won a Supreme Court decision. However, Martin’s issue was a congenital medical issue and his leg has since been amputated. Cart use is allowed at lesser and qualifying tournaments, but not for PGA Tour events.

Woods is certainly doing well enough to tee off for Round 1 and walk. The question is whether he can last on the undulating hills and remain competitive. That seems like a long shot. And Tiger doesn’t seem like the kind of person who just shows up if he has no reasonable chance to win.

Tiger has beaten medical odds before. He has overcome multiple back surgeries and a spine fusion. I have not examined Woods, but my experience in sports medicine — which includes operating on PGA players and providing medical coverage on tour events — leads me to believe it will be a very tall order.

Yes he could choose to make a showing, but it would be extremely unlikely that he could make a cut and be competitive enough to make a red shirt run on Sunday. Those taking his FanDuel 50/1 win odds might as well buy a lottery ticket.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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  1. “Can play golf at a high level and beat 99% of the players” LOL your not really serious are you those days for Eldrick are long past you know it and I know it he ain’t playing if he was he would have said so this is all show to pump up the Masters.

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