Why Tiger Woods' legendary coach wanted him to miss Masters cut

Butch Harmon has revealed why he wanted Tiger to miss the cut at the 2023 Masters.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods' legendary former coach Butch Harmon has revealed he wanted Woods to miss the cut at The Masters in 2023 for his own good. 

Speaking to GolfMagic in the build-up to The Masters, Harmon revealed that he didn't want Woods to make the cut in 2023 because he didn't believe the 15-time major champion would be able to play another 36 holes. 

Harmon's fears came to life when, after playing seven holes of the third round, Woods was forced to withdraw due to aggravating a previous injury to his ankle. 

Since his withdrawal last year, Woods has only completed five rounds of tournament golf, four at the Hero World Challenge in Albany and one at the Genesis Invitational earlier this year. 

Having undergone further surgery on his ankle after the Masters in 2023, Woods claimed he was pain-free, but despite that, he was again forced to withdraw from the Genesis Invitational due to the flu. 

Butch Harmon and Tiger Woods
Butch Harmon and Tiger Woods

Sitting down to chat with Harmon, we asked him about Woods' chances next week. He believes it won't be the golf but the walk that could stand in his way of competing. 

He said:

"I think we can expect Tiger’s game to be pretty sharp; he wouldn't play if he didn't think he was. The problem is, can he walk? That's one of the hardest walking golf courses that we play all year long. It’s very hilly, a lot of side hill lies and uneven lies. If you remember our telecast last year, when he made the cut, I actually said on air on Sky that as much as we love having Tiger in the field, I really wish he hadn’t made the cut because I didn’t think he could walk another 18 holes, and it turned out he couldn’t."

Despite the lack of playing time, long list of injuries and demanding course conditions, Harmon was reluctant to rule Woods out of contention. 

He added:

"Now we all know with Tiger never say never, and I can remember back in 2019, we had one of these (interviews), and everyone asked me if Tiger Woods could ever win the masters, and I said I doubted it because he hadn’t played, but all you’ve gotta do is tell him he can't do something and he will try and prove you wrong, that’s his mentality, that's one of the reasons he was the best in the world."

Having coached Woods for 11 years during the most prolific period of his career, in which he won eight majors and 34 PGA Tour events, Harmon knows his game better than most and highlighted that aside from how he walks, Woods' short game could also be called into question on the notoriously tough greens at Augusta National. 

Harmon told GolfMagic:

"It will be very interesting to see in the practice rounds how he walks, how he handles the hills and just watching how he handles that. I would say, knowing him, his game will be okay from tee to green. I don’t know how his nerves are going to be with the short game even though he has one of the best short games in the world, but having not been in competition at all, it’s difficult. 

"You can’t turn it on and off. It always has to be on. But I think the big question is, physically, could he possibly walk 72 holes or more when you consider practice rounds at Augusta National? We won’t know that until we see him.” 

"He knows how to get around Augusta, but the big question is, will his body allow him to become Tiger Woods again?"

Despite his reservations, Harmon made one thing clear: you can't ever count Woods out, and it appears bookmakers are also taking that into consideration. 

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

When he steps foot on the first tee at Augusta National, Woods will be looking to claim his sixth green jacket. Despite having barely played any tournament golf in the lead-up, the majority of bookmakers still have him at 90/1 to win.

For context, several other former winners, including Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, and Phil Mickelson, all have longer odds than Woods. 

The Masters will be available on Sky Sports Golf and via a NOW subscription from 11th – 14th April, and you can follow all the latest news on Sky Sports social and digital channels throughout the week.

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