February 06, 2015

Tiger Woods: the finish line?

Tiger Woods, taking time off. (ESPN photo)
Update, Feb. 11: Tiger says he is taking a powder until he's tournament ready. More on his website; no idea what his idea of "very soon" might be. Per paid scribes, if it means he still is thinking about the Honda on Feb. 26, why an announcement? Unless it's just Tiger continuing to be Tiger about  this whole issue. And, of course, that wouldn't surprise me, and to semi-regular readers of sports posts within this blog, I'm sure that the idea that wouldn't surprise me doesn't surprise you.

There is one other point, touched on a bit by others. If this is NOT related to his back surgery last year, then other than "my glutes didn't activate," what exactly is the problem? Whatever it is, don't expect Red Shirt to tell us.

That said, back to my original blog post.

I don't really like referencing Joe Posnanski, mainly because of his turd polishing for Joe Paterno.

But, he does have a very good column about the cloudy future for one Tiger Woods.

In it, he links to a previous column which has three key takeaways:
  • The median age for major champion winners since 1960 is 32.
  • Only 20 of the 220 winners since 1960 (9%) were 40 or over.
  • Since 2000, only four of 60 (7%) major winners were 40 or over, and three of those four won the Open Championship. No 40-year-old has won the Masters or the U.S. Open in the 21st century.
He then goes on to say that Elin and the fire hydrant aren't the break point in Tiger's career, but rather, the heroic U.S. Open win at ... ironically or poignantly, today ... Torrey Pines in 2008.

Tiger's age at that time. A median-fitting 32. '

As for the rest of this year?

First, let's talk about that "update."

I'm going to assume that cuts out the Honda in two weeks. That means the WGC at Doral is automatically out. Bay Hill? Maybe. But no more than maybe.

So, quite possibly, no Red Shirt until Green Jacket Week.

Speaking of?

Tiger-proofing Augusta seems to have done just that, whether we accept Hank Haney's claim that it also made it lefty-friendly (Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson have won three of the last five green jackets) or not. 

The U.S. Open is at a new venue — Chambers Bay. Tiger doesn't usually do well at new venues. Plus, the coast of Washington State, even in June, isn't the warmest, most fog-free place in the world.

The Open? St. Andrews might offer Tiger a shot at major 15 — if he's otherwise recovered from both back and yips. Even then, he won't be the favorite.

The PGA? He's never done well before at Whistling Straits.

So, that limping battle against Rocco Mediate may have been his majors finish line. Woodsaholics and the TV networks and the PGA tour all need to accept it.

Beyond this year?

The Masters will remain Tiger-proofed. U.S. Opens will remain with at least semi-thick rough and demands on chipping and general short game that today's Tiger Woods cannot meet, until he overcomes — the yips. Let's be honest.

So, any chance at a major would be most likely in either an Open or a PGA. But, if his back problems continue, those are both later in the season, after more of a year's wear and tear.

He may, just may, get a No. 15. More than that? Highly unlikely.

As for 18 or 19? That's a Moon shot, or even a Mars shot.

Meanwhile, the irreverent (and at times clickbait) Daily Mail reminds us that Tiger was healthy enough to be watching Lindsey Vonn ski on Tuesday, then, after that, jet to San Diego, sans much practice time. It compares the end of his career to that of Seve Ballesteros, who saw his younger steller, scintillating play fade by his middle 30s.

With that in mind, having had his back surgery a year ago, Tiger's earned some benefit of the doubt. Soon enough though, we're going to see less and less conceded, and more and more snark, like the @TigersGlutes Twitter account mentioned here.

Speaking of, is Ian Baker-Finch right that Tiger's now afraid? Or even worse, is Doug Ferguson right in just hinting a bit that maybe Tiger's now a bit of a quitter?

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