While Tiger Woods had struggled through the early part of the 2014 PGA Tour season, in the back of everybody’s mind, it was all still just a lead-up to one tournament. Surely, Woods would find a way to have everything ready before the Masters Tournament.
Unfortunately, time and injury seem to be catching up to the world’s No. 1 player yet again, and for the first time in his professional career, Woods will be forced to skip the trip to Augusta National following back surgery.
It’s disappointing to say the least. To me, and certainly several others, the Masters represented Woods’s best chance to finally get to his 15th career major. He’s won at Augusta four times, and has finished in the top ten a ridiculous eight times in the last nine years. Through all his injuries and personal setbacks, Augusta was Tiger’s haven, a place away from the prying eyes and cell phone cameras where he could just focus on being the best golfer on the planet.
That Woods is being forced to miss this tournament shows just how serious the injury really was. He’s played through countless other injuries, possibly to his long-term detriment, all in the name of being ultra-competitive in his sport.
That’s why, now more than ever, Woods must be prepared to skip all four of this year’s majors if he’s going to win any more. Certainly, the course lineup for this year’s majors – Pinehurst, Royal Liverpool, and Valhalla – set up well for Woods. He’s won at two of those sites and always played well at Pinehurst. Experts believe that Woods could miss three or four months, which would have him potentially missing the U.S. Open. He could return in time for the Open Championship, more likely with his sights on the PGA Championship in August.
If history is any indicator, Woods will be pushing himself to the limits to get back in play, but depending on how his rehab truly goes, he needs to be prepared to sit out for as long as needed, even if it means missing all the majors.
Woods won five times in 2013, and nearly won the FedEx Cup title despite dealing with a bad wrist. Even when he’s not 100 percent, he’s still capable of winning golf tournaments. But the majors require something more, and at 38 years old, sometimes just guts aren’t enough anymore. Certainly his window for majors is closing, but hurrying back isn’t worth risking slamming it shut prematurely.
As a fan, I certainly hope that Woods is able to come back and this year, but more importantly, we should all want Tiger to be Tiger again. Augusta National will still be there next year, and this might just be the sign Woods needed to focus more on his health to extend his legendary career.