Tiger Woods’ WD sends Riviera Country Club into confused chaos

Tiger Woods withdrew suddenly from the Genesis Invitational, kicking off an anxious few hours where little was known about his health.

The post Tiger Woods’ WD sends Riviera Country Club into confused chaos appeared first on Golf.

Tiger Woods withdrew suddenly from the Genesis Invitational, kicking off an anxious few hours where little was known about his health.

The post Tiger Woods’ WD sends Riviera Country Club into confused chaos appeared first on Golf.

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Tiger Woods is fine, but for a long time Friday afternoon, it sure didn’t seem like it. 

Shortly after 1:30 p.m. local time, the mood at the Genesis Invitational turned from a lovely sunny day to a torrent of confusion and concern. Woods slid into the passenger seat of a golf cart being driven by a rules official. Broadcaster Steve Sands spoke for everyone when he said, “When Pete Dachisen, PGA Tour rules guy, is carting you in, that usually is not a good sign.”

Woods had been silently battling something. He was six holes into this second round and one over for the day, but clearly unwell. Gary Woodland said that Woods “didn’t look right” before the round even began. He was quieter than normal. By the 7th hole, Woods was one over par, but “he looked visibly uncomfortable,” according to on-course reporter Aaron Oberholser. 

Woods and Dachisen made the long, winding ride through the gallery and grounds up to the Riviera Country Club clubhouse, which sits on a perch above the property. On occasion, Woods held his head in his hands. His new caddie, Lance Bennett, followed along in a separate cart. Golf Channel had its long camera lenses tracking every rotation of the club car wheels. 

It may seem imbalanced that the withdrawal of a 48-year-old golfer can divert the entire attention of a tournament in his direction, but there is too much history of Woods withdrawing due to back pain or nerve issues, and too much history with his health at this tournament in particular. It was exactly three years ago Thursday that health kept him out of this tournament (a spinal microdiscectomy in the hopes of being ready for the ’21 Masters), and exactly three years ago Monday that a major, single-car accident nearly ended his life. 

Woods hit a shank on the 18th hole Thursday during his one-over opening 72, and admitted afterward to battling back spasms his last few holes. It’d happened to him at home on occasion, but never in competition. On Friday, more than one observer wondered: could his back have flared up again? 

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Mark Dusbabek, another PGA Tour Rules official, joined the broadcast to clarify that Woods’ WD was not due to a back issue. Rather, it was from an illness. For most of the golf world, that was all we knew. He had gone from wearing a polo, to a polo and a vest, to a polo and a sweater in the California sun. Woods’ cart eventually pulled up to the player support area and he disappeared into the clubhouse. After that, nothing. Nothing for two long hours.

Woods’ caddie, Bennett, is new to Tiger World, where cameras follow his every movement, but if anyone knew what Woods was battling, it would be him. Bennett was seen running out of player dining around 2 p.m. and into the player services center. Bennett continued moving about frantically, jogging out of the locker room into the parking lot, then back into the locker room.

As Bennett scrambled down below, two fire trucks arrived in the roundabout on the main floor of the clubhouse. An ambulance arrived shortly after the fire trucks. Security staff began assessing each entrance of the clubhouse. The ambulance was originally slated to back up to the player locker room entrance, but now it had backed up to Riviera’s employee entrance. Security guards whispered into radios. The air of secrecy was impossible to ignore. 

Dachisen, who had dropped Woods off at the clubhouse, was asked for an update. “He’s where he needs to be,” he said simply. Medical professionals entered and exited that employee entrance every few minutes, but there was no sign of Woods nor the various handlers that typically surround him. Whatever was ailing him was serious enough that he couldn’t finish the final 12 holes of his round. But not so serious that he was rushed off the property. But serious enough that medical professionals were called from off-site. 

It all left the property in a daze of confusion. Where was Woods, exactly? Somewhere in the bowels of the clubhouse. Did he throw up out on the course, like rumors began to spread? Maybe, maybe not. Locker room attendants had given Woods some cough drops Friday morning. Was that somehow a comforting sign? 

Because the media center is within the Rivera clubhouse, officials blocked access to the rest of the building. Inside the clubhouse lobby, security cleared fans and enforced a strict perimeter. Outside, dozens of journalists, photographers and TV cameramen crowded that employee entrance, clicking their cameras every time the door opened. After 30 minutes, the door opened enough for an empty stretcher to be rolled out. The fire trucks and ambulance left. Another comforting sign, despite no update.

Meanwhile, two pairs of freshly cleaned golf shoes sat neatly on the floor outside Woods’ locker. They’re branded SDR, for the footwear and apparel company he launched Monday, called Sun Day Red, in partnership with TaylorMade. It’s a bumpy start to 2024 for his golf game and for his new brand’s awareness, too. Around 3:20, Tournament director Mike Antolini rushed Woods’ black bag into the locker room. An attendant started shining his shoes.

Only after two hours of awkward turmoil did official word finally trickle out. Woods’ business partner Rob McNamara clarified that his man had been battling flu-like symptoms since Thursday night. No back issues at all. Woods’ warmup went well, and his fever seemed to wane, but as his round began he started to feel dizzy and dehydrated. He received IV treatment in the clubhouse during those tense minutes when everyone else looked on from the outside, and was cleared to leave on his own around 3:40 p.m. 

That’s exactly what he did. Woods may be a battered man, but he walked upright and tall through the locker room, smiling even, hugging a friend as McNamara packed up his things. A few minutes later, Team Woods left the course in a red Genesis coupe and, to some extent, with a massive exhale. 

Tiger Woods
Woods was seen upright and in much better shape as he left Riviera Country Club Friday afternoon. Getty Images

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