The golf world was hoping to wake up this morning to a big “April Fools” statement from Tiger Woods and his camp. No such luck.
It shouldn’t be surprising mostly because Eldrick has never been funny enough to pull something like that off - even on April Fools. Remember, this is the same guy who tried to be funny by stating after a British Open victory that coming into the final round he still knew he had to “be Ranger Rick on the golf course.” That’s Eldrick telling a joke.
I’m sure to many golf fans there is nothing funny about Woods not being at The Masters. He’s the biggest draw in PGA Tour history. Even though the entire Tour doesn’t revolve around him every week, it does when he’s got a headline to put on the front page - good or bad.
Take a look at the Golf Channel homepage today. You’d think it was a news and opinion site dedicated to all things Woods. They’ve got every angle covered, even the ones that don’t even need to be mentioned.
The immediate reaction from the media and fans was shock. Tiger Woods not at The Masters? But I want red on Sunday! You were never getting red (in contention) on Sunday, so don’t be sad. Unless Woods went into The Masters at 100% on the health and mental health scale, he wasn’t going to be a real threat. It’s better to not have him there at all if he was just going to hack up the place because his back hurt. He made a smart decision. It’s not about playing majors and getting experience for Woods, it’s about winning them.
Take a look at Tiger’s list of injuries and surgeries:
December 1994 - Surgery to remove two benign tumors and scar tissue in his left knee
December 2002 - Removal of fluid inside and around the ACL of his left knee
July 2007 - Ruptures ACL
April 2008 - Arthroscopic left knee surgery to repair cartilage damage
June 2008 - Two stress fractures in left tibia
June 2008 - Reconstructive ACL surgery on left knee and cartilage repair
December 2008 - Ruptures right Achilles tendon
May 2010 - Neck joint inflammation
December 2010 - Cortisone shot in right ankle to help aching Achilles tendon
April 2011 - Minor left knee MCL sprain, minor strain of left Achilles
March 2012 - Left Achilles injury
June 2013 - Left elbow injury
August 2013 - Back injury
March 2014 - Back injury and surgery for a pinched nerve in his back
And that’s only the major stuff we know about. Woods expects to make a full recovery, but as we all know from every other injury he would expect to make a full recovery from, it’s probably not happening. Age isn’t on his side anymore and as the injury list and number of surgeries grows, his chances of winning majors and staying at the top of the golf World Rankings shrinks little-by-little.
I’m 28 and don’t recover from my sports injuries as fast as I used to, so for someone a decade older than me, it has to be a lot worse. I think Tiger’s track record proves that it is. He hasn’t won a major since the 2008 US Open and now he’s unquestionably injury-prone. He’s just not to dominant beast he once was.
Look at all of the 2008 and later injuries and surgeries on that list and then look at all the majors he’s won after June 2008. That’s 10 for the injury/surgery list and 0 for the majors. Correlation? Uh, yea.
And we all know what happened in November 2008. That didn’t help, but the injuries are what is really killing Woods on his quest to catch Jack Nicklaus’ major total at 18.
Jack won 4 majors after he turned 38 and that’s the exact total Tiger will need to hit to catch him. I’m not optimistic, but I’m still intrigued and hoping Woods will make it back for the US Open.
Even though Tiger is synonymous with The Masters, once the first group tees off, the aura of Augusta takes over and it doesn’t really matter who’s there or not. The course is the showcase and the players are the pawns creating drama on that stage.
But it’s still nice to have some Sunday red in that drama.