Is Tiger Caged Permanently?
In the wake of The WGC Bridgestone Championship at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, I wanted and should be writing about the UNREAL display of golf being put out there by Rory McIlroy.
In the wake of his performance in winning The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, he followed up with an emasculating performance (to the rest of the field) in the final round yesterday.
I never thought, after Tiger, I’d ever be awed by the on-course skills of a golfer-until yesterday. I’d never seen anyone drive the golf ball like Tiger did in his prime-LONG AND STRAIGHT-now, I can say I REALLY haven’t seen anyone drive a golf ball like I’ve seen Rory do these last two tournaments.
Words can’t do it justice.
However, that’s not the story for me today. In my life, I’ve been fortunate to see TRUE GREATNESS is sports.
As a boy, #34 for my beloved Houston Oilers, Earl Campbell, did things I’ll never forget on the football field.
In tennis, I’ve watched McEnroe, Borg, Agassi, Sampras, Federer, & Nadal. In hockey, I got to see Gretsky in his prime.
And of course, in my first love of basketball, I watched Bird, Magic, Jordan, and now, Lebron.
There are other, obvious choices in other sports that I’m leaving out, I know; however, I’ve never seen consistent greatness like Tiger Woods.
Last week, my son, Hogan, and I watched the final round of the 2000 PGA Championship that was being re-played on The Golf Channel. Tiger won in an amazing final round duel and playoff with Bob May.
During the course of that back nine, Hogan asked, “Dad, does he ever miss a putt?”
I laughed…then I thought and answered, “You know, for about 10 years…I can’t remember him missing ANY putt that mattered.”
He has a sense of “the moment” like NO athlete I’ve ever seen. This, of course took on mythic status with his win at the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg with no ACL in his knee. At the time, who would have thought that would be the last major win? Not me.
Over the years, he’s endured many surgeries and medical setbacks that he ALWAYS came back from.
This year, he had back surgery.
For a golfer, the back is the one thing you avoid surgery on like the plague. This is Tiger, though. Of course, this surgery would simply fix the pain (see pic above) he showed at the end of last year/early this year and he’d bounce back-good as new, right?
In typical Tiger fashion he emerges to play MUCH earlier than expected. Here he comes, right?
His play has NOT been up to the level and standard he has set for himself, or that he’s set for us to expect. It’s been disappointing.
It hasn’t been the same.
It’s not close.
Personally, I’ve been disappointed. Then came yesterday. His mediocre play this weekend was punctuated by an apparent re-injuring of the surgically repaired back.
I’m starting to get the same feelings I got when Earl Campbell’s career was winding down as a New Orleans Saint.
It wasn’t the same.
It wasn’t close.
And to his credit, Earl walked away before he did any damage to his legacy.
Look, I know we’re talking about golf and not football, but Father Time is undefeated in all sports. There is only so much you can put your body through. There are only so many surgeries and elite athlete can endure. I fear that both of these are gaining fast, if not have caught Tiger Woods.
A week ago, I would have argued that Tiger would “be back.” At this point, I’m more inclined to argue that Tiger should walk away before he does any damage to his legacy.
It’s not the same.
And it’s not close.
If you’ve never seen what Tiger once was, I invite you to check out this SMALL sampling of what he’s done on the course over the years.