Teed Off (Apr. 6, 2014)
with Robert Bicknell
It appears that Tiger Woods will not be in this year's Masters Tournament due to surgery on a pinched nerve in his back. What this really means is that he will not have to endure the embarrassment of missing out on another opportunity to win a major.
I said it 16 months ago - stick a fork in him, he's done.
Tiger made a huge series of mistakes, starting with his infidelity, compounded by poor crisis management, poor public relations and, worse of all, changing his swing at a critical time in his life. If there is one thing we can say for certain, it is that Tiger Woods did it to himself - which is sort of fitting as golf is a game which demands each player accept responsibility for his actions.
Anyone watching Tiger Woods over the years can see that his very violent golf swing would be his undoing. There is simply no way the human body can continue to generate that kind of power and speed without eventually breaking down in a spectacular way. Everything breaks down with time and there is no way around it.
What's funny is that we all thought it would be John Daly with the back problems, but we should have seen it coming with Tiger as well.
All professional athletes suffer injuries from time to time, that's a risk we all take. As time goes on, we risk it more than when young because our bodies cannot take the stress as well. Tiger isn't young anymore either. Knees, back, wrists, fingers…all potential injuries waiting to happen.
Also, the young guns coming up such as Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day to name but a few, are not afraid of Tiger. They respect his accomplishments, but see this as their time to shine and if Tiger is in the way, they will go over him. It's up to Tiger to remind the kids that he's still a force to be reckoned with, but I don't see him in any position to do it.
Tiger should seriously consider hanging up the spikes and moving on to the second half of his professional life… designing golf courses, becoming a spokesman for Viagra and doing commentary on the Golf Channel.
If he's smart, he'll have some razor sharp investment guys making even more money for him without him even lifting a club. His future is set already, he just needs to accept the fact that his amazing run is over and do everything he can to pave the way for the next generation.
Personally, scandal aside, I don't think Tiger has anything to be ashamed of. He made a hotter run at Nicklaus's record than anyone living or dead. He set the world on fire during his time and helped revolutionize the game as we know it. He brought excitement to the game and induced a lot of people to take up the game.
The hottest phrase for a while was: "I'm Tiger Woods" and almost every junior golfer, regardless of nationality, was dreaming of being Tiger Woods on the 18th tee at Augusta about to close out another major title.
Unfortunately, Tiger's career will always have an asterisk and the unspoken question of "what if" surrounding it. What if the scandal never happened? What if Tiger remained healthy? What if he didn't change his swing?
There are a lot of questions but only armchair speculation on the answers because we would never know for sure.
Personally, if managing him, I would have never let him enter a clinic or debase himself. US$100 million divorce settlement would have allowed him to visit his kids whenever he wanted, so that issue was off the table. I would have made him wear black, grow a goatee and turned him into a major league "heel" and surrounded him with sponsors like Jack Daniels, Harley Davidson, Viagra and Trojan. Let Phil Mickelson be the white hat, donut-eating family guy. That would have been the only way to maintain his aura of invincibility and, at that level of professional golf, confidence is everything.
In the end, he could have continued to win and strike terror into the hearts of his opponents. But, of course, that is just speculation…
My advice to Tiger - hang it up and go out while still on top. — VNS