When last Friday came and went without word from Tiger Woods, we at least knew he wouldn't be turning up in Tucson for this week's WGC Accenture Match Play Championship.
Friday, March 5, the entry deadline for next month's WGC CA Championship at Doral, is every bit as likely to pass with the same eerie silence. The unofficial and strictly private Tavistock Cup, due to be played on Tiger's home course at Isleworth in Orlando on March 22 and 23, remains the most likely setting for his return to competitive golf.
And if Woods still wants to play in April's US Masters, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill (March 25-28) offers him an obvious opportunity to play 72 holes of PGA Tour golf a fortnight before Augusta. Lips at Isleworth are reportedly sealed tighter right now than the perimeter at the exclusive resort where Tiger crashed his Cadillac Escalade on November 27, and doing so, bringing his public image down around him.
The Tavistock Cup is an annual made-for-television match between star-studded teams representing Isleworth and Lake Nona. Woods, who has played every year since the inaugural event in 2004, could not ask for a better opportunity to break the ice with 19 of his professional colleagues.
In so doing, he'd boost ratings enormously and establish the Tavistock Cup as one of the pre-eminent charity fundraisers in professional golf, though Tiger's presence might affect the ambiance of an event exclusively attended by well-heeled residents of the two Orlando resorts, their families and friends.
Meanwhile we can expect some relief from the drudgery at this week's Accenture Match Play in Tucson, where Padraig Harrington has been drawn with Jeev Milkha Singh, Rory McIlroy meets Kevin Na and Graeme McDowell takes on his former Walker Cup comrade Luke Donald in tomorrow's first round. McIlroy and McDowell are slated to meet in the third round and, all going well for the Irish, the winner will cross swords with Harrington in Saturday's semi-final.