Whisper it, but it might be time for Tiger Woods to admit his body is breaking down.

He withdrew at the Dubai Desert Classic last week and sent the watching world into a frenzy. The same problem will now keep him out of the Genesis Open and Honda Classic.

Is it just his back? It’s probably just his back. What if it’s something else? But he said he was alright, didn’t he?

It’s just his back.

The last time Tiger uttered the words “I’m good” he was lying under a surgeon’s knife just three weeks later.

It had been a long 15 months for golf. Fans everywhere had been starved of the 14-time major champion’s presence before his return at the Hero World Challenge in late December.

But did we really miss him? Well, in short: Yes. Obviously we did. But the game of golf certainly didn’t.

I know what you’re thinking. Just hear me out.

In 2016 we had some of the best quality golf on display that we have ever seen. The depth of talent on both the European and PGA Tours has never been stronger.

The game is in a good place and perhaps this is Tiger’s downfall: His ego.

Tiger Woods

For someone who talks of a revamped swing that supposedly stays away from his 41-year-old body’s aches and pains, there has been an awful lot of grimacing in the last fortnight.

Maybe it is time for Tiger to admit his body is breaking down and his sense of self-pride – and self-importance? – won’t let him fix it. But is it a surprise?

We, as golfing fans, must take our share of the blame. We push and we push. When is he coming back? But what if Tiger were here? I wonder what he’s having for breakfast?

No wonder his ego is brimming and his back isn’t.

Woods is adored and loved around the world for his past glories but it is time for us to admit that we don’t need him and unless he is healthy we shouldn’t demand his presence.

If this is it for Tiger then he will go down as one of the greatest ever to pick up a golf club and rightly so. There would be nothing sadder than to see his career come to a slow painful end with a succession of withdrawals and false promises.

Tiger’s presence should be craved not demanded. It might just be the difference between watching Woods break beyond repair or bowing out in style. Tiger elevated the game to new heights and if he does decide it is his time to step away he deserves to ride off into the sunset with adulation. Right now this is only heading one way and fast.

Please, Tiger, don’t push beyond repair. Be honest with yourself. Don’t tarnish the memories. The game might not need you, but we want you and always will.