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Optimistic Joe LaCava hopes Tiger can play ‘three, maybe four’ events before the 2023 Masters

July 23, 2022
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Tiger Woods and caddie Joe LaCava walk on the sixth hole during a practice round prior to The 150th Open at St Andrews.

Warren Little

As Tiger Woods made his early (and emotional) exit from St. Andrews last week, missing the cut at the 150th Open, the presumption among most prognosticators was that it was the last time we’d see the 15-time major winner on a course in a while. It was a somber thought. Maybe Tiger would compete in his own Hero World Challenge come December and/or play alongside son Charlie again at the PNC Championship, but beyond that, the schedule was empty and disappointing for his fans.

Enter Joe LaCava to offer at least a few rays of hope. Tiger’s caddie was on the “Dan Patrick Show” on Thursday and hinted that his boss could play in a handful of meaningful events before another run at Augusta National in 2023.

“I’m still hoping he’ll play three, maybe four tournaments before the Masters,” LaCava said while talking with Patrick.

LaCava speculated that Woods could play in the 2023 Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles in February. It’s a PGA Tour event Tiger hosts and benefits his foundation. LaCava also mentioned the Players Championship in March as possible tune up before Augusta, acknowledging the need for Woods to get some competitive reps in as better preparation for his major appearances.

While waiting to hear from Woods on his progress and what’s happening, LaCava will offer to come South Florida and time between now and the end of the year if Tiger feels like practicing.

“I’ll do the same thing and say to Tiger, ‘If you’re starting to feel better maybe October, November, maybe I’ll come down for a couple of weeks, we’ll hang out,” LaCava said. “We don’t have to play every day. We don’t have to practice every day. I’ll just be there and give you a little motivation.”

The disappointment of how things played out at St. Andrews was shared by LaCava, who was hoping given the time Tiger was putting in during the week to prepare for the event that his game would come around on a course that Woods had won twice before.

“It’s one of those things where we just never got anything going the first day,” LaCava said. “It wasn’t like he played poorly … the putting just didn’t seem to be there, and the short game wasn’t quite there.

“I think he’s working so hard to get stronger and healthier. He’s working on his long game and working on his endurance, and I just think the short game has been neglected a little bit at this point and that showed over there.”