MEXICO CITY (AP) — Rory McIlroy says Tiger Woods was in a good place mentally when they had lunch last week and that the next few weeks would go a long way in determining whether the four-time Masters champion shows up at Augusta National to play.
"It's a possibility, for sure," McIlroy said Tuesday.
Woods withdrew from the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Feb. 3 with back spasms and withdrew from his next two tournaments. His agent said it was not being viewed as an extended break. Woods has not said anything about the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks or the Masters on April 6-9.
McIlroy doesn't know, either.
"He struggled with his body over the past couple years and it's unfortunate because it just won't allow him to do what he wants to do," McIlroy said. "It's tough, but I know that he's working hard to try and get back. Again, with your body and with injuries, it just takes time. However long it is that it takes him to be healthy enough to get out here and play, even if he plays eight to 10 times a year, that's a bonus for all of us."
If Woods does not play the Masters, it will be the third time in four years he did not compete at Augusta National.
McIlroy said they had lunch alone and that "mentally, he's in a good place."
Asked if he thought Woods could accept playing a limited schedule, McIlroy said that was a question for Woods.
"If I were him and I'd been through all what he has and the wins, you play to be competitive. You play to win," McIlroy said. "I think for him and his mind, once he gets back to that, he can start to look at playing."
This story has been corrected to show that it would be third time in four years in sixth paragraph.