It’s the same thing every weekend: Casual fans lazily scan the leader board looking for Tiger. He used to be easy enough to find, but on recent Saturdays and Sundays he's been near the bottom or gone. A leader no longer, Woods started deteriorating back in 2009, when he was outed as a sex addict and attacked by his supermodel wife Elin Nordegren. His public image took a hit, but it seems like his body really took the blow. He's been plagued by injury ever since.
Which brings us to last week’s Farmer’s Insurance Open:
Tiger's first chip shot - on the first hole of his day - was way, way off. A few sad holes later, he took leave of the tournament. The withdrawal came on the heels of a missed cut at the Phoenix Open. Tiger has only one top-25 finish since the beginning of 2014, and has seen his on-course earnings drop from $8 million in 2013 to zero this year.
If a single injury was nagging him, Tiger could focus on rehabbing that and attempt a comeback, but the man keeps pointing at different parts of his body (including, in a baffling explanation, his glutes) whenever something goes wrong. Is he hurt? Maybe, but it's been a tough mental journey. His glutean failures may be secondary to a mental issue. And if it is indeed a psychological issue, that issue would be be described as "Golf."
At 39, Tiger is well past the age when golfers peak. Since 2000, only one golfer over forty-years-old, Vijay Singh (then 41), has won a Masters, U.S. Open or PGA Championship. While there are some notable exceptions, like Phil Mickelson winning the British Open at the age of 43, there’s very little precedent for Tiger getting his bounce back.
If Tiger’s up to be a middling player on the tour, missing the cut and blaming various ailments for his play, then expect his career to continue to be a train wreck for the foreseeable future. If not, the end of Tiger’s PGA career might be very close indeed - closer than his chip shots anyway.
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