Unless you have the freak-like qualities seen in 44 year-olds Jaromir Jagr (NHL) and Bartolo Colon (MLB), or 39 year-old Tom Brady (NFL), most professional athletes don’t see their careers continue into their 40s. Most sports exert a tremendous toll on your body, and they wind up being dominated by youth. Then there’s golf, where many of the better-known names are still going into their later years: see Phil Mickelson (46), Vijay Singh (53), and Fred Couples (57), just to name a few.
Where does 41-year-old Tiger Woods sit?
Even after his raunchy personal life was uncovered for everyone to see, and then surgery sidelined him for a while, he’s a player fans would love to see regain his legendary dominance. After all, he is arguably the greatest golfer of all-time.
To the excitement of both fans and the media, Tiger announced in December he’d return to competition. But just over a month in, it hasn’t really gone as planned. He missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, and dropped out of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic last week due to nerve issues. Now, two more events have been cut from his schedule: the Genesis Open and Honda Classic, which take place this weekend and next.
The reason for pulling out? Back spasms.
Is this the beginning (or middle) of the end for Tiger Woods? He has two more events, the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational, on his calendar for March. Will he be healthy by then?
Here are a few odds for the remainder of Tiger’s season.
While Tiger played in a few non-PGA tournaments before making his return to the big leagues, he’s only played one PGA event. Even though he missed the cut at the Farmers, he didn’t look half-bad for a guy who’s had multiple back surgeries. But just a week later he pulled out of a tournament in Dubai, and now both the Genesis Open and Honda Classic. While five seems like an attainable number, unless Tiger finds a way to stop the spasms, it looks like that could be the most we’ll see from him this year.
Any golfer you ask would say playing at Augusta would be a dream come true. Well Tiger has done it, and won an impressive four times. The great thing about The Masters is it’s the ultimate Boys Club: it allows former winners to return, no matter how long ago they won. It’s a tournament full of tradition and legacies, and Tiger is included in that. Unless he’s unable to walk, expect him to play. And if his spasms are still bothering him and he pulls out, you better believe he’ll still be there, although it may be only for the opening ceremony.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it seems rather unlikely. While we saw flashes of his former self at the Farmers Insurance Open, he still missed the cut by four strokes. And it’s going to take a lot more than just playing on the weekend to nab a win.
By January 1, 2018: 5/1
By the end of the 2017 golf season: 25/1
One thing we do know about Tiger is he’s stubborn. When he commits to something, he does everything in his power to get it done. That includes a “successful” return to the game. While “successful” to him would probably include winning a few tournaments, to others, it’s more along the lines of playing in and making the cut in every event he signed up for. So, given that his goal is basically unattainable, an official retirement from Tiger will probably never come.
Photo credit: Keith Allison (Tiger Woods) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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