In a fit of pique, I predicted some time ago that Tiger was “done” as a force in golf—that he would never top Jack’s record and perhaps not even eclipse the somewhat easier mark of Sam Snead’s 82 tour victories. My reasoning is that although he’s ony 35, he’s an “old” 35. Having been engaged in full scale competitive golf since the age of seven, he’s five to ten years older in terms of wear and tear than the men he’s chasing. To that competitive age, I add that his swing—the torque and the power that we all admire—has to add strain that previous players haven’t experienced.
I love to be right, but I really take no pleasure in noting that Tiger is out again because of a knee injury. From his website:
Tiger Woods announced Tuesday that he will miss the Wells Fargo Championship because of a minor injury.
Woods suffered a Grade 1 mild medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon while hitting a difficult and awkward second shot from the pine straw under the Eisenhower tree left of the fairway at No. 17 during the third round of the Masters. Woods was able to continue playing at Augusta and then later decided to seek a medical evaluation.
Doctors have advised rest and cold-water therapy, and soft tissue treatment will also occur later this week. There is no definitive time frame for healing, but Woods hopes to be back in a few weeks.
“I personally contacted tournament officials and expressed my regret in not being able to play,” Woods said. “This is an outstanding event, but I must follow doctors’ orders to get better.”
The left is of course, the same knee that was surgically repaired in 2003, and again in 2008. The left also is the leg where he suffered the stress fractures that he played through to his one-legged victory at the US Open. He also ruptured his Achilles on that leg in rehab. The word in 2008 was that elite athletes come through such things as good as new. You have to wonder, though. It’s been twenty months since his last Tour win, and now this …
There’s another issue, however, that I’ve factored into my “Tiger is done” churlishness. And it doesn’t have anything to do with his knees. For so many elite golfers, the touch with the flatstick is the first thing to go. My theory is that the competitive mental strain finally gets to them, and the quiet moments on the green allows it to surface, giving them time to second guess and hesitate. If Tiger was putting the way he did ten years ago, he might have won this past Masters. As it is, he’s putting like a guy who needs to go to the granny stick.
I hope his knees get better. I would be an awful thing to always contemplate just how good he might have been if not brought down by injury.