Tiger Woods issued this statement today:
“My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf. Like I’ve said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.”
Suffering from the short game yips and yet another back injury, Tiger is stepping back from the game. He says he’s like to return at the Honda Classic, but won’t “unless my game is tournament-ready.”
That’s an interesting choice of words considering statements he has made in the past:
When my best isn’t good enough, I’m walking … if I play my best and don’t win, there’s no reason to be out here.”
In 2007, at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Tiger said:
“I will retire from this game when my best is not good enough anymore. I couldn’t handle it if I were to go out there and prepare and play my best and it is not good enough any more. There is no reason to play any more.”
From a 2008 ESPN radio interview:
“When I get to a point where my best is not good enough anymore, as I prepare and I practice and I get ready, and I know if I go out there and play the way I know I can play and it’s just not good enough anymore, my skills have diminished that far, it’s time for me to move on, rack the cue and go home.”
From a 2011 press conference in Beijing:
“I’m not going to go out there and play when I know where I have been. I’ve been at a point in my career, and points in my career when I know I’m going out there and I know I’m playing my best and I know what I can do, I should win. When I get to an age when I just physically can’t do it anymore, then I’m done.”
The question is where Tiger sets the bar. Is “good enough” consistently making the cut like so many TOUR journeymen? Is “good enough” a win every year or two and top twenties in Majors? Or is “good enough” a return to domination?
I doubt Tiger will be satisfied with the first, and given the younger talent on tour, I think the last is out of the question. So if Tiger is going to continue to play, his expectations will necessarily be moderated.
I have a hard time envisioning Tiger being satisfied with a less than stellar future though, though. Imagine what it would sound like to him: “Tiger’s a good player. ” That’s damning with faint praise. Imagine what he might think about being stuck in the 20 – 50 range in the World Golf Rankings.
Tiger last won the US Open in 2008. That means that unless he manages to win again in the next three years, he will need to start trying to play his way in by being in the top 60 in the World Golf Rankings. Would Tiger be able to deal with that, after ruling the roost for so long?
My prediction: Tiger goes through another couple of years where he struggles with injuries and his swing. Betrayed by his body, Tiger will not find his way back into the Official World Golf rankings Top 10. The layoffs will become longer and longer. Then he will hang up his cleats to concentrate on business matters.