A Tiger without his claws – should Woods hang up his boots?
“Well, I’m playing. I just need more time,”
These words have had far reaching ramifications for Tiger Woods. A virtuoso with a wand in his hand, Woods has endured the most dramatic and slipperiest of slides seen in any sport by a great – barring a person named Lance Armstrong, oh well! It has been his body which has been at the heart of the news emanating from the great champion rather than his majestic play over the course of the last few years.
Recently, fans who tuned in to watch the great champion tee off a ceremonial shot at the Congressional Golf Club stared in horror and dismay as Tiger Woods hit three straight shots – into the pond. The shots were prognostications themselves as to how Woods’ back has healed over the course of the last six-seven months – since he underwent a second operation.
Tiger Woods will be missing a third consecutive major this year – The Open, and if we are to go by what we saw at the Congressional CC, there is no refuting the fact that Tiger will inevitably miss the PGA Championship in late July. It will mark the first instance that Woods will miss the entire four majors of the calendar year during the course of his illustrious career.
It has been a well-known fact that Woods had previously undergone quite similar operations on his ailing body – most notably on his knee in early 2008, which required arthroscopic surgery, after he played through pain during the 2007 British Open. So why is the back taking so long to completely heal?
To put into perspective, Woods is 40-years-old and not getting any younger, this amalgamated with the fact that he has already gone through some tumultuous years of rocky affiliations – not to mention his extramarital relationships suggest they have inevitably taken their toll – both mentally and physically – on his body.
Tiger still continues to rumble along, stating that once he has completely recovered, he can still contend at majors. Although not negating his words and the fact that history too supports his ideas, it is his mental degeneration and scars that might be too hard to heal, thus preventing him from ever ghosting near a major title. Golf is probably the only game where physical strength is not a prerequisite for winning majors and championships, to an extent of that required in other sports – just ask Tom Watson who famously pulled off the miracle of the ages at the 2009 British Open when he nearly won at 59-years-old.
Miracles do happen, but the plausible argument that most pundits and golf aficionados put forward regarding Woods is that although he is only 40, his mind and body have left him hanging as if he is already 70.
A master, who’s one swish of his wand, caused millions of golf enthusiasts to hold their breath with gasps of ecstasy and uncertainty regarding the outcome. A man who instilled fear and trepidation into the hearts of his competitors – who knew that they knew his contemporaries would buckle under pressure – now languishes at a lowly 615th in the recently released World Golf Rankings. Tiger Woods epitomised the words ‘clutch’ and ‘great.’ During the course of 2000 and 2001, he held all four golf majors at the same time – a feat dubbed the “Tiger Slam.” Now he has gone 32 consecutive majors without a win since his playoff victory Rocco Mediate at the 2008 US Open.
The 14-time major winner has endured five DNPs, four missed cuts, a 69th place finish at the 2014 British Open and a T17 finish at the 2015 Masters in the last 11 majors – since the start of 2014.
It seems Tiger Woods still has a shot at reclaiming lost glory – a long shot. When he had a second back operation in the fall of 2015, Woods said that he was done for the year – could it be that Tiger might be done and dusted after all?
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