June 08, 2011

Woods to miss US Open: "It's time for me to listen to my doctors and focus on the future. I was hopeful that I could play but, if I did, I risk further damage to my left leg. My knee and achilles tendon are not fully healed. It's been a frustrating and difficult year but I'm committed to my long-term health. I will be back playing when I can."

posted by JJ to golf at 05:25 AM - 8 comments

So it will be three years without a major win for Tiger, and the four major wins he needs to equal Nicklaus's record of 18 seem ever more unlikely. Is the "Woods Era" over?

My old man played Royal St Georges, venue for this year's Open Championship, a couple of weeks ago and I played at the weekend with Harrington's brother who had just been down there last week with Padraig - we've been having a drought in southern England and the news from the course is that there's no significant rough anywhere. It's dry as a bone. Tiger will want to be back in time for that as it sounds like he could spray it anywhere off the tee and still be in with a shout of winning it.

posted by JJ at 05:36 AM on June 08, 2011

At what age did other greats start losing their game? Tiger is still only 35. I think he can get his body right, but I just don't know if he can get the mental parts back.

posted by bperk at 08:58 AM on June 08, 2011

On an age-to-majors-won ratio he's neck and neck with Nicklaus at the moment (having been fairly well ahead of him for a long time). Whatever the age drop-off point is, it's later than it used to be (and getting later all the time) thanks to new equipment, but I'm increasingly concerned that, having done everything else sooner than everyone in the history of the game, Woods might also be bruning out faster.

His swing has always loaded up his left side and put it under immense pressure. You can build all the muscle you like, but there's only so much your joints will support before they start breaking down. I don't think he's finished by any means, but I no longer think he definitely will overtake Nicklaus, even though five or six years ago, I thought he'd have no trouble getting to 20 majors.

I've mentioned it before, but I can't stop thinking about Peter Alliss's remarks in 1997 about his swing that were essentially driving at the point that he couldn't swing it that violently for his whole career; at some point he'd have to either change it or end up missing a lot of time because of injury.

The other thing is that I'm not sure you can say that a golfer's powers begin to fade when they can no longer hit the ball as far as they used to. That's not usually the problem. The problem is usually mental. It becomes harder and harder to concentrate as fiercely as one used to, especially if you have other things going on in your life. You hit a certain age or level of maturity and it's no longer possible to con yourself into thinking that golf is the be all and end all of life. Also, I'm convinced that bad shots take a cumulative toll in the same way that good shots do in a positive way. You don't have to miss too many short putts before your heart starts racing every time you leave yourself one, making you all the more likely to miss it.

That's maybe contradicting my first point about the technology helping longevity a bit, but it's definitely a factor.

posted by JJ at 09:28 AM on June 08, 2011

I think he can get the body part back together, but the mental part, in my estimation, may be gone for good. As great as Woods has been, and thinks he is, even he isn't able to figure out the human brain and how it's negatively impacting his life, decisions, and profession. That same temper and fire he seemingly used to utilize to dominate now seems to be one more thing that will ruin his chances of putting together four solid rounds of gold during a tournament or major. While I don't think we'll see another golfer as dominant as Woods was for a while, there are still plenty of guys who can and will play well any given week. Add in the fact Woods has plenty of money to get him through the rest of his life in style and I doubt the drive to be the best and the desire to work at it like he had when he first was rising to the top of the sport will ever return.

posted by dyams at 09:37 AM on June 08, 2011

Mental and physical problems aside, another reason Tiger may be all but finished is that no one on the Tour is afraid of him anymore. In his prime, all he had to do was show up and the rest of the field would wilt. Now the other players realize he's all too human and the intimidation factor doesn't work anymore.

posted by jm_mosier at 10:56 AM on June 08, 2011

There was a fantastic newspaper headline I saw the other day regarding Woods.

"Tiger goes limp."


"Pulls out after nine holes".


posted by Drood at 01:12 AM on June 09, 2011

What newspaper would run that headline? Doesn't sound New York Times-worthy.

posted by dyams at 10:17 AM on June 09, 2011

If I had to guess, it would be a British tabloid, like the Daily Mail.

Edit: Nope, it was the NY Post, and it's not quite the same.

posted by grum@work at 11:23 AM on June 09, 2011

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