Tiger Woods just can’t get it together and it’s starting to look like he never will again.
The world’s most recognized (and by far the most financially successful) golfer was forced to withdraw from the Dubai Desert Classic last week with back spasms. Woods’ much publicized return to the professional circuit in late 2016 after a 16-month layoff following multiple back surgeries has hit yet another snag in an ongoing series of snags that has plagued him for going on a decade now.
The writing appears to be on the wall. Looks like the Tiger is going out not with a roar, but a whimper.
It’s sad when a celebrated professional athlete goes by the wayside through a quick decline after years of dominating their respective sport. Woods is by far the best example of this we have seen in recent years, perhaps ever.
Deemed to be the next great one in golf as a pre-teen, Woods broke multiple records on the college circuit with Stanford. But that sterling college career would pale in comparison to what he would achieve after he turned professional in 1996.
One year after he was named the PGA Rookie of the Year, he won his first major at the 1997 Masters. He won his second major in 1999 by capturing the PGA Championship, and then nearly swept every major tournament of 2000 by winning three of four.
To date, Tiger has won 14 major championships, second behind only the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus (18). During his heyday in the 2000s it looked as though that it was not only a matter if Tiger would break Jack’s majors record, but when.
Now it appears that the odds of Woods simply winning any tournament, let alone another major, are greatly stacked against him. He hasn’t finished at the top of an event of any kind since 2013.
With back and knee issues, it’s obvious that Tiger’s physical capabilities are holding him back. That said, it’s more likely that his problem lies between his ears.
Everyone knows that golf takes an incredible amount of mental discipline and focus, and that is increased by a factor of 100 when considering the pressure of the professional ranks. If your head’s not in it, you’re just not going to do well on the course.
It’s unlikely that it was mere coincidence that Woods’ game fell off at pretty much the exact time his marriage began to publicly fall apart due to his reported infidelities. Tiger’s reputation took a tremendous hit when that news broke in 2009 – and rightfully so – and whether it’s the guilt or the embarrassment of the whole situation that continues to linger with him on the golf course, it’s just not the Tiger Woods we’re accustomed to seeing.
The PGA is packed with young upstarts looking to make a lasting impression on the sport. Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth immediately come to mind. But neither is likely to come close to what Tiger achieved so often and so quickly in his career.
Once you reach the top, there’s only one way left to go. Sometimes the fall just happens much more quickly and painfully for some than it does for others.
Thanks for reading Banner Blitz and I’ll see you back here in a fortnight.
This is a bi-weekly opinion column. For question or comment, Dan McNee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.