Our first debate of 2013 is centered around the epicenter of golf, the corporation known as Tiger Woods Inc. It’s been a few years since El Tigre had the worst drive of his career, using the square grooves of his SUV’s transmission to spin back into a real life hazard (known as a “Hurricane Elin”).
With the strains of Hank Williams crooning “Your Cheatin’ Heart” echoing in his back swing, Woods all but disappeared from public view. He tumbled out of the top spot in the world rankings and many of his sponsors said adios. Our question has two parts; Is Tiger finally back and did he ever really leave (Tiger says no to part two.)? I say maybe to part one and he’s delusional to part two.
Speaking of delusional, the clinical definition resides to my immediate left, with the columnist who actually believes he can play golf.
For most mortal beings winning four tournaments, as Woods did last year, not only would qualify you for Comeback Player of the Year but also for Player of the Year. And Tiger would have won that award had it not been for that mop topped leprechaun from Hollywood, Northern Ireland. But all Rorys aside, Woods entire career has been built on winning major championships and it’s been five years now since he beat Rocco Mediate on one leg in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Back then it didn’t seem a matter of if he would eclipse Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 professional majors but when. Now you couldn’t find a bookie in Vegas dumb enough to back that wager. So if our argument follows ordinary lines I will concede to Gorman that TW is indeed back as an elite, money making PGA touring ATM. But if we are debating as to whether the old “I’ll grind the field into stone dust” Tiger, the one everyone believes can win the grand slam, then Gorman is as nuts as Woods when he says he never left. Never left? His picture was on a milk carton in Tim Finchem’s fridge for a couple of years. So I will contend that the real Tiger is still trying to get out of that SUV.
I don’t think he’s ever going to approach his former level again, mainly because his body is no longer what it was. Knee surgeries have felled many a mighty athlete. Age has defeated all comers and Tiger is no longer that kid who first showed the world his fist pump at TPC Sawgrass in ’93. He’s 37 now. That’s the prime of life for most of us, but it’s getting long in the tooth for a professional athlete, even if he is a golfer. There’s a reason most pros disappear sometime in their 40s and then reappear when they hit 50.
Can Tiger win golf tournaments again? Certainly. He won four last year and already has one in the bank this year (as of this writing). Can he win a major again? Why not? His game is just as good as anyone’s on any given week. It all comes down to the putter. But that was never a question before the “accident”. It was not ‘if’ he could win a major but ‘when’ and ‘how many’. Winning one in a year was almost a given. People expected Tiger to win multiple majors every year.
So if that is the standard to judge if he is indeed back then the answer is NO, NO, NO!
(Tim Geary is a R.I. based freelance writer. He’s never had to come back because he’s never been anywhere).