Tiger Woods has not done anything significant in years, and that’s why he’s on the cover of the Sports Illustrated heading into next week’s Masters.
Alan Shipnuk’s article, “What Happened to Tiger Woods? It’s the Most Vexing Question in Sports.” does not paint a very hopeful portrait of the fourteen-time-Major-winner’s future. In an introduction, Shipnuk writes:
It has been eight years since he took a major title, and he’s rarely seen with a club in his hand. Even though Tiger Woods will be, at best, a ceremonial figure at the Masters, many believe he can still rediscover his magic at age 40. A look at the events and injuries that set him back suggests otherwise.
the actual cause of the Tiger mystery is unknown. Theories as to the cause of his collapse abound, from weight-lifting to simply being tired of being Tiger.
I have long thought, however, that Tiger’s major enemy was age. He is at least ten years older in golf years than he is by the calendar. This is a guy who has been playing (and winning) competitive golf since he was in grade school. That’s a lot of wear on very specific muscles and joints for a very long time. Add to this his hard swing, and you have a body older than it should be.
Throughout his dominance of junior golf, then high-end amateur, and finally professional golf, Tiger also has expended more concentration and focus by age forty than most do in a lifetime. At some point, those reserves just had to run out.
When Tiger finally returns to golf — however long that takes — he will be one of the world’s best “fifty year old golfers.” Unfortunately, he won’t be eligible for the Champions Tour, and will at the same time be too “old” for the regular circuit.
As an aside, the Sports Illustrated headline “What Happened?” puts me in mind of the end of the excellent 1966 film, The Sand Pebbles. In it, Holman, a US sailor played by Steve McQueen, is trapped by encroaching revolutionary forces in 1920s China. His final line:
What happened? I was home. What the hell happened!?
For Tiger: What happened? I had Jack’s record. What the hell happened!?